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Film Review: Whiplash (2014)



ACTORS:Miles Teller, JK Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser
DIRECTOR:Damien Chazelle

The majority of Whiplash takes place inside the jazz studio, a movie theatre and on a variety of stages – framing the artistic display of jazz culture within the film – and centres on the theme of obsession.

Miles Teller plays ambitious 19 year-old jazz musician Andrew Neiman determined to become the greatest, while his music teacher (an inspired performance from J.K. Simmons as a jazz musician attempting to find the next Charlie Parker) tests his sanity along the way.

Teller’s performance as ‘the next Charlie Parker’ didn't disappoint. I for one won’t forget the words ‘double time swing’ and ‘you’re done’ in any hurry.

Andrew’s ambition to be the best sees him lose his girlfriend, get hit by a car and cover his hand in blisters on more than one occasion. His desire helps him reach one of the most prestigious music schools in the America, under the direction of one of the best jazz teachers - Terence Fletcher.

However, we subsequently discover that Terence (J.K. Simmons) has more under his sleeve than first assumed. As Terrence himself says “I was there to push people beyond what's expected of them. I believe that's an absolute necessity.”

It wasn't just Teller’s youthful performance that stood out, but also the work of 30 year-old writer and director Damien Chazzelle.

During a Sky Movies preview on the film, J.K. Simmons said of him: “I can see that he can write, I just hope he can direct.” Simmons numerous awards for best supporting actor are testament enough that Chazzelle definitely didn’t disappoint.

Cinematographer Sharone Meir helped display tension through an eerie yet peppy visualisation of what it’s like to be a Shaffer jazz musician, alongside brilliantly timed shots of drum sets and shiny saxophones edited carefully to the sound of the music by Editor Tom Cross (surprisingly, also known for editing Crazy Heart and Wrong Turn).

The direction of the film is also carried by the frantic display of jazz practise and copious drum bashing - Austin Stowell and Nate Long adding to this as two drummers competing for lead.

Whiplash is an edge-of- your-seat, eye catching story that didn't just inspire me to play the drums, but to teach others too.

Great job all round, a must see for everyone.

 Review by Calum Hill

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