Of all the films nominated for Best Picture, Whiplash was the film I wanted to see the most alongside Selma. Ever since it opened for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, this film has been receiving endless appraisal and went onto win both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. After reading an article on Entertainment Weekly appraising it from the festival, I was interested in seeing it. After seeing a clip and a trailer, I really wanted to see it. And just days before the Oscars, it didn’t disappoint at all. I didn’t think I’d say thing for a movie about jazz drumming, but it has to be the most intense film I’ve ever seen in recent years.
At the Shaffer Music Academy, Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) longs to be one of the greatest jazz drummers in the business. He wants to rank amongst his idols Charlie Parker and Bob Ellis. He sees an opportunity when he attracts the ear of Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons), who is considered the best conductor in the school. And his band is a sensation at regionals. He sees this as his chance to be amongst the greatest. But he has to compete with another more experienced drummer first.
This plot certainly sounds like a standard tale of a teacher inspiring a student to greatness. But what sets this film apart is the means the teacher uses to make to inspire his students to greatness. Fletcher expects his students to know every single note by heart and wants every note played to perfection. Pray for mercy for anyone who plays out of tune for he doesn’t mince words. He spews insults, threats and f-bombs like a sailor. In their first rehearsal, Fletcher throws a chair at Neyman and slaps him for rushing. Dead Poets Society, this is not.