Nineteen year old Andrew Niemann wants to be the greatest jazz drummer in the world, in a league with Buddy Rich. This goal is despite not coming from a pedigree of greatest, musical or otherwise, with Jim, his high school teacher father, being a failed writer. Andrew is starting his first year at Shaffer Conservatory of Music, the best music school in the United States. At Shaffer, being the best means being accepted to study under Terence Fletcher and being asked to play in his studio band, which represents the school at jazz competitions. Based on their less than positive first meeting, Andrew is surprised that Fletcher asks him to join the band, albeit in the alternate drummer position which he is more than happy to do initially. Andrew quickly learns that Fletcher operates on fear and intimidation, never settling for what he considers less than the best each and every time. Being the best in Fletcher's mind does not only entail playing well, but knowing that you're playing well ...Written by
The basic story Fletcher recounts about Charlie Parker is true, but his description is inaccurate. Drummer Jo Jones did indeed throw a cymbal in response to Parker's playing, but he did not throw it as a physical attack on Parker - he simply threw it to the stage floor as a signal that Parker should leave the stage. Jazz historians have also said that this was not a response to poor performance as Fletcher says, but because the older musicians disapproved of the fast improvisations Parker was playing that became his trademark. See more »
A number of times during rehearsals, the soundtrack can be heard with trumpets using Harmon/Bubble mutes, but visually, the trumpets are shown with open bells (no mutes). See more »
I don't say that often, in fact...never. There aren't enough superlatives to describe the amazingness of Whiplash. Damien Chazelle crafted not just a tense dramatic piece of cinema, but a thematic experience with layered subtext. Andrew is a college student who simply wants to be the best drummer. Terence Fletcher, a renowned teacher at said college, sees potential in Andrew and chooses him to be the drummer in his band, at the expense of emotional distress. This is a brutal character study, absolutely savage. This is about Fletcher as much as it is about Andrew. The psychological battle and the consequential emotional turmoil that follows. I've never been so compelled in a drama ever (and this is my 5th viewing). The strive for perfection amidst the continuous passion that elevates Andrew as a person and how Fletcher uses his passion in attempt to obtain the perfect musician that Andrew hopes to be. The struggle for perfection is difficult in any profession, there is no right or wrong way to achieve this; the question is: "is there a line between gently pushing someone towards a goal or inflicting emotional torture upon them?". Fletcher leans towards the latter, so much so that he actually imposes physical damage to Andrew to test whether he will be discouraged from the harsh reality of perfection or not. The internal struggle in Andrew is excellently conveyed, you can see his passion seeping through the blood, sweat and tears and yet mentally unable to cope with Fletcher's methods. A simple story, but executed with such ferocity and intelligence that it just feels fresh. Damien Chazelle directed the heck out of this. Quick cuts between the musical instruments and nice long takes of Miles Teller and J.K Simmons duelling in anger. Speaking on Simmons, the best performance I've seen in years. Both complicated and terrifying simultaneously, he deserved every award. Teller was near perfect as well, conveying innocence and vulnerability. Look, I can talk about Whiplash forever. It's a masterpiece. End of review.
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