Take a Drink: any time J.K. Simmons stops rehearsal
Take a Drink: when a drum solo draws blood (literally)
Drink a Shot: any time J.K. Simmons goes positively apeshit
Drink a Shot: for every mention of Charlie Parker
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (A Toast) –
Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is an first year student at the Shaffer Conservatory, a renowned music institution. Neiman is an aspiring Jazz drummer whose goal is to be the best. Not just any “the best” but to be counted among the great drummers in the world. His aspirations bring the attention of band leader Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) who drafts Neiman as the alternate drummer in his student Jazz band. Fletcher is highly respected among his peers, and feared by students, and soon proves tyrannical, using a hard regimen of bullying to put the fear of god into his pupils. Neiman is a great drummer, but does he have what it takes to be the next Buddy Rich?
Miles Teller impressed critics last year with his solid performance in The Spectacular Now, and with his performance in Whiplash; he again delivers an uncannily emotional performance as a student driven to mad compulsion by his domineering teacher. Andrew Neiman is a sad, lonely individual who has few if any friends, and neglects those that he does have. He hopes by doing this, he will be able to reach perfection in his art. This perfection comes at the price of his sanity, his social life, and possibly his soul.
J.K. Simmons is an actor perhaps best known for his comedic performances, of which he is highly (and very justly) respected. For all his excellence at comic timing, he has always been a performer first, above all. And in the role of the rancorous band leader Terence Fletcher, Simmons has delivered a villainous performance which will no doubt enter into the canon of Hollywood’s rogue’s gallery. Indeed; Fletcher is a supervillain of the highest order; believing his denial of praise and dark demeanor with his students will bring out their hunger for brilliance.
Director Damien Chazelle’s film is a haunting portrayal of an abusive teacher-student relationship which holds steadfastly to its dour tone, avoiding any hint of melodrama. The film’s pace is heart-pounding, as the audience is forced to bear witness to cruelty and the torment of the film’s main character, who despite his pain, only seems more and more determined to soldier on. There is a strange intimacy of Neiman’s relationship with Fletcher. The kind of camaraderie that is only seen between opposing soldiers in war, who form a strange kind of respect for their enemy, even as they try to kill them.
Whiplash overcomes all doubts and surpasses the highest expectations to become the year’s most spellbinding film.