Saturday, December 20, 2014

Indie Movie of the Month: Whiplash


Opened September 28, 2014
Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang, Chris Mulkey, Damon Gupton
96% on Rotten Tomatoes

There are no two words in the English language more harmful than 'good job.'"

Whiplash asks how far is too far. How far can people reasonably be pushed to be great? Is there a limit and can a line be drawn? Following a jazz student played by Miles Teller at a prestigious school in New York, likely meant to emulate Juilliard, Whiplash shows his journey from prodigious hopeful to ambitious, hungry musician under the tutelage of J.K. Simmons' terrifyingly demanding and perhaps slightly psychotic, nay, sociopathic professor. I saw this movie in early November and it's still haunting me. The soundtrack gives me chills and I still remember how much my heart was racing when the credits started to roll. The pacing was such that I felt like the movie blew by at a brisk 30 minutes and like I had been sprinting the entire time. The performances are electric and the fact that the movie is so stellar and basically revolves around two characters is a testament to the performances of Teller and especially Simmons, who really should receive an Oscar for this.

Damien Chazelle's decision to place this story within the context of the jazz world is incredibly astute as well. Coming from a dance background, the cutthroat competition and the hunger for perfection within an artistic and yet very technical world were familiar, though I've never faced it at that level. The last scene of the movie plays out so perfectly and is delightfully twisted. I couldn't quite believe the emotional peaks and valleys that the movie went through. Each scene just builds up the disbelief and horror that someone would be pushed to that level and be able to not only withstand it, but continue fighting for their goal and eventually flourish under it. It's incredible to see Simmons intentions and Teller's desperation play out and then the way that they shift and play off of each other. The movie is so tight and plays out a breakneck pace in such a way that it's a wild ride that's incredibly fun to watch. I haven't loved a movie this much in a while and it's just so worth seeing, so do yourself a favor and settle in for a crazy whiplash of a ride (low hanging fruit, an open door, I had to).


Also, props for having one of the coolest posters this year.

If you've seen Whiplash, sound off below! What movies are catching your attention this fall?

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