Thursday, February 26, 2015

MOVIE WEEKEND: WHIPLASH

Salutations! Glad you drug yourself over to read a movie review.

Whiplash is a WOW movie (2014, Rated R, I watched it on a DVD from Netflix [I have a subscription]).



Are the two main characters in this film brilliant, or are they insane? Andrew (Miles Teller [who or whom--I can't decide if it's subjective or objective], who or whom I like so much in The Spectacular Now) is a drummer at a prestigious school of music in New York. Teacher and conductor Terence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons) invites Andrew to play with the core jazz band. Fletcher reels in his catch with kindness and won't let the student off his sadistic hook.

I've loved J. K. Simmons for a long time. He's hilarious with Tom Hanks in The Ladykillers. He's excellent as the father of the titular* character in Juno. I didn't know he had a Terence Fletcher in him. He plays supporting parts, and for this movie, he won a number of Best Supporting Actor awards, including the Academy Award. But is this really a supporting role, or was it pushed as a supporting role because his win would be a sure thing? And what about Miles Teller**? If Simmons is best supporting actor, then why isn't the actor he supported sporting a Best Actor Academy Award in his trophy case? Teller wasn't even nominated.

Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, he has stated that the movie is partially based on his experience as a band student in high school, and the intimidation factor he felt with his instructor.

The question we face here is the following: How far can a teacher go to turn a promising student into a genius?

Terence Fletcher: There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job. . . . I was there to push people beyond what's expected of them. I believe that's an absolute necessity. . . . I never really had a Charlie Parker. But I tried. I actually fucking tried. And that's more than most people ever do.

As the parent of two brilliant oxymorons, and yes, I know I brag a lot about the kiddles, I can tell you that if one of my kids had a band teacher like Terence Fletcher, the man would wear a trombone around his neck and a trumpet up his ass. But then, I paid attention to my children. I still check on them. Andrew's family does not support him, though his father improves somewhat. 

However, I know some teachers pushed my kids to be great. I'm not a pusher. I'm filled with pride, and I encourage the people I love. My children probably upped their game because of pushing from teachers. 

I don't want to reveal too much. I understand the end of the movie. We all have different life experiences that will contribute to our impressions of Whiplash. Whiplash earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval, although I don't know if many of you will agree with me. In addition to Best Supporting Actor, Whiplash won the Academy Awards for Best Sound Mixing and Best Editing. It was also nominated for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. I think you will love it, or you will hate it. 

This movie is not for children. Handle with care around teens. 

One scene I feel I can discuss without spoiling the movie is when the bus breaks down on the way to a jazz band competition. This experience is real for me because of children in my family. One of my nieces went on a band trip. The bus broke down, and the kids slept in a McDonald's parking lot. Most of them didn't have enough money to get something to eat. Favorite Young Man went from Maryland to Florida for a band competition. When it was time to go home, the bus would only run in reverse. They couldn't go backwards from Florida to Maryland, so they were delayed while the company got another bus.

I feel this movie. I feel it strongly. I understand if you don't.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

*I like the word titular because it starts with tit, and I feel smart when I use it.
** Miles Teller is in every scene in this movie. He does much of his own drumming. Some of the blood you see on the drums is his.

27 comments:

  1. Might have to give this one a try!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The movie did earn some awards at the Oscars, but I didn't see it. I'll put it on my list of movies to get from Netflix.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've been waiting for someone to post a real review of this flick; I need to see it.

    Teachers that push can be a catalyst for greatness or an excuse for quitting; it's a tough line to walk. The trailer for this flick made me think the J.K.Simmons character had a touch of sadist in him, so I wasn't sure it would be my cup of tea. Thanks for the thumbs up - it's on the list now!

    If you didn't think J.K.Simmons had a meany in him, you've never seen Oz. He totally brings the psycho white supremacist vibe to life; tough to watch.

    Have a nice day, Janie-poo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right: I've never seen Oz. The character is definitely a sadist, and not just a touch of sadism. He's sadistic through and through. I still love the movie.

      Delete
  4. I understand it's fantastic but dark, and I'll probably watch it when it comes out on Netflix.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's on DVD from Netflix. Do you wait for movies to be out on streaming? I can't wait that long for some movies.

      Delete
  5. I heard it was a great movie from everyone who saw it, but I don't think a lot of people actually went to see it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right. It's one of the lowest grossing movies ever to be nominated for Best Picture.

      Delete
  6. This is a film I want to see and i heard J.K. Simmons was a sadistic SOB in this film. I heard he is in almost every scene but Oscar heads wanted him to win and did not want to detract from the Michael Keaton/Eddie Runnymede "feud". There is no feud but more of who will get the award. If J.K. was in best acting it would have taken away from those 2. When this film comes out, I will see it ( I will rent it)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Might have to see this one - you've aroused my curiosity! (titular) (smile)

    ReplyDelete
  8. My Netflix DVD of Whiplash just arrived. I hope I like it. It is butting in to my Midwives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm thrilled that you like Call the Midwife. Whiplash is worth the break from midwifery.

      Delete
  9. I was already not sure if I would like it, but planned to watch it, regardless. Have to see for myself why he won as such an apparently hard, unlikeable character. Looks very intense. I'll have to work up to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely intense. I think you will like it and understand it.

      Delete
  10. We saw it at the movie theater last weekend, and you could hear a pin drop during the final scene. Well actually you couldn't, but I couldn't think of a better way to describe the intensity. I also don't understand why Miles Teller wasn't nominated. I got a kick out of his drum playing during the Birdman spoof on the never-ending Academy Awards.
    He reminds me of a young John Cusack. JK Simmons deserved the award, but you're right how the supporting category helped seal the deal.

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't associate him with John Cusack, but you're right. There is a similarity, and I have always adored John Cusack. The supporting category thing to make sure the person gets an Oscar seems to be more popular every year.

      Delete
  11. I appreciate your reviews. I bought a copy of begin again after your review. I love that movie.
    Lave you reviewed Salmon Fishing in Yemen?
    Rick

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't Begin Again the greatest? I reviewed Salmon Fishing in the Yemen quite some time ago. I love it.

      Delete
  12. You really are trying to drive me insane.

    You know my daughter will have drug that piano out of my house before you ever get your druggy paws on it...

    -andi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Two weeks ago I drug out Willy Dunne Wooters, and I haven't seen him since.

      Delete
  13. Never heard of it before. Thanks for the heads up. Now that DJ is home maybe I'll rope him into setting up an old computer for Netflix. Well, if the internet ever starts working again.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I saw this today. J.K.'s character scared the crap out of me. He is SUCH a good actor. Broad range, I guess you would say. Kind of like Philip Seymour Hoffman, he could play anything. I thought I understood the ending, but I hung out at IMDB for a while to check.

    ReplyDelete

Got your panties in a bunch? Dig 'em out, get comfortable, and let's chat.