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 »
When Fletcher kicks the trombone player out of the band for being out of tune, he congratulates the alternate and tells him that he is now on the fourth trombone part. The player he kicked out was sitting on the end where the bass trombone would sit, but he was not playing a bass trombone. A top-notch college band would have a bass trombone player. And a jazz conductor would never refer to a bass trombone as a fourth trombone. See more »
Whiplash is low budget film making at its finest, and surely promises big things from rookie director/writer Damien Chazelle. Seeing this film in theaters was the first time this year that I have completely enraptured (granted, I have not seen all of the top films that have come out so far). Also, I am a succor for quality films about musicians, and Whiplash ranks in my all time favorites in that genre. The tension did not let up from the very first scene, especially as soon as the incredible J.K. Simmons enters. Simmons, along with Miles Teller (who's Project X days are now long behind him) have some of the best on screen chemistry I've seen. They're connected; one cannot act without it affecting the other. The film is almost entirely focused on this relationship, and the simplicity definitely services the film. I hope people will go and see it and vote with their pocketbooks for excellent low budget films.
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