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Tuesday, December 16, 2014


written & directed by Damien Chazelle
[director filmography: Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009)]

starring Miles Teller [Divergent (2014), That Awkward Moment (2014), The Spectacular Now (2013), Rabbit Hole (2010)], J.K. Simmons [Juno (2007), Thank You For Smoking (2005), Spider-Man Trilogy]

ENJOYMENT: ***** (out of 5)
"Loved it"

Before Whiplash emerged in mid-October this year, I think everyone was a bit worried about 2014 and its lack of excellent films (besides, of course, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel). Maybe it was because last year was such a magical year at the movies--one of the best of my life--but we were in deep need of something to build some optimism in those who live for this sort of entertainment. So, Whiplash came along and not only did it give me the much needed jolt that I needed, I guarantee it will blow away anyone who is willing to give it a go. Whiplash is about jazz, sure, but it is about more than that: it is about a man [Miles Teller] growing up and wanting to be great, realizing that to be great he must make sacrifices, that he needs people who push him and he must be able to push himself. However, what makes this film special is that it takes him a step beyond this and makes him, along with the audience, question whether being great is so great after all. Some have called this film Full Metal Jacket meets Dead Poets Society, but whatever it is, Whiplash will be remembered as one of the greatest films of 2014.

The cinematography, music, directing and acting make Whiplash look like it's at the helm of some seasoned filmmaker; however, Chazelle is only 29 years old and this is only his second feature. Back in 2009, Chazelle was recognized for his only other film Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench by a couple of film festivals. Then, last year he made a short film called Whiplash, submitted it to Sundance, and was awarded the Short Film Jury Prize and secured funding for the feature length film by the same name. As a result, Chazelle will now be among the greatest of his peers, and just about everyone should be looking forward to his next film La La Land coming out next year. 

From the preview alone, I knew that Whiplash was not an average independent film; it was not just for a select audience who was escaping the explosions of the summer blockbusters and looking for an introspective tale about what it takes to succeed. Whiplash is an in-your-face film with yelling, profanity and intense music that will incite both smiles and profound anxiety. The main character wants to be great so bad he'll sacrifice friends, his girlfriend, his family, the skin on his hands, his mind and his health. His teacher [J.K. Simmons] wants his student to succeed so much he's willing to throw a symbol at his head. This is a story about what it takes and whether it is worth it, and will entertain the hell out of you along the way.

OSCAR PREDICTIONS: Whiplash will be nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons and Best Sound. If there was justice in the Academy Awards, Miles Teller would also be nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. J.K. Simmons will win for Best Supporting Actor.

Other ratings: IMDB (8.7/10), Rotten Tomatoes (96%)

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