After watching the nominated films for Best Picture, Whiplash stood out among the rest. The film is just fantastic as a maniacal teacher searches for a student with drive and ambition to transform into an all time great. Miles Teller plays Andrew, a 19 year old drummer who practices until his hands bleed. He want to be known as the all time great and relentlessly practices his craft.
Teller doesn’t even begin understand relentlessness until come upon J.K. Simmons band teacher, Terrence Fletcher. Fletcher teaches the best jazz band at the school Andrew attends. What Andrew doesn’t know if the depth of hate and pain in Fletcher’s teaching technique. Fletcher wants desperately to be the teacher of the next great jazz immortal. He references Charlie Parker, who didn’t really ascend to his mantle as “The Bird” until he had a cymbal thrown at him one day in order to make Parker see that he had to put the work in and could use his immense talent together. Fletcher gives every student a incredibly hard time, degrading them, pushing them, and stating the worst phrase ever uttered in modern times is “Good Job”. He hates complacency.
In the end, while the two men have shown then strength, Simmons performance just shines as he realizes that Teller’s character is the new jazz great. He has transformed. Simmons not only comes out as a brute, but the subtlety of his performance has to be seen to be believed. He deservedly won an Academy Award for his acting in the film. Teller was outstanding. The story, pacing, script, and cinematography are all terrific.
4 Stars – A Hitting a Mark Recommendation