Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons explode as a drumming student and band leader in Whiplash.

Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons explode as a drumming student and band leader in Whiplash.

Reel Reviews: There’s no skipping the beat of Whiplash

Whiplash, the Oscar nominated film starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, makes you experience a sort of Stockholm Syndrome.

  • Feb. 20, 2015 9:00 a.m.

Andrew (Miles Teller) is a 19-year-old drumming student at a prestigious music school in New York.

Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is an instructor who uses abusive treatment as an attempt to drive his musicians to greatness. When Fletcher thinks Andrew has what it takes to play in the school’s best band, sparks fly.

We say, “Whiplash makes you experience a sort of Stockholm Syndrome.”

TAYLOR: The audience, like poor Andrew, is on this cruel ride of mental and emotional anguish at the hands of a teacher that, by the end we can’t help but like and even appreciate the bastard he is.

At nearly 20 minutes into the film I had a knot in my stomach just because some kid was gonna have to play the drums. That’s a sign of a film achieving effective tension. From there I was riveted, along for every beat, and just when I thought, “OK fellas, that’s enough,” it ended with a smile, simply, elegantly, satisfyingly. Whiplash is electric.

HOWE: Wow, wow, wow. Whiplash is a nonstop fantastical treat to watch and hear. I am going to say this is the best movie I have seen in the three years we have been doing reviews.

I don’t know why it only has five Academy Award nominations because Miles Teller gives a superior performance to Bradley Cooper in American Sniper.

J.K Simmons is nominated, but I feel both he and Teller should have been for their performances.

I will take my hat off to Teller. I’ve only seen him in teen movies, which have been pretty lame and didn’t really show off his acting skills, but after watching this, I am impressed by this young man.

TAYLOR: Only complaint: editing. It’s nearly impossible to film actors giving exactly note-for-note or strike-for- strike performances. Name any film about musicians performing and you’ll find it in the scale of pretty good (Crossroads, The Doors) to the disastrous (everything else). The editor, Tom Cross, has been nominated for an Oscar for this film, which just goes to show how difficult such a task is and how picky I am. But Whiplash is perfect for what it is, a super-tight, jazzy, drum solo of a movie.

HOWE: And I didn’t want it to end. Some movies you want to be done after an hour and a half; this I wanted to see and hear more. I wonder, when they release it on DVD, if they will make a 12” remix version of it.

TAYLOR: See Whiplash at the Vernon Towne Cinema if you can, loud on the big screen would be optimum. But see it any way you can. Be sure to turn it up and don’t allow interruptions. The film has a pace, a tempo,  like a song. It needs to be played. Whiplash is the most engrossing film of the year.

Taylor gives Whiplash 5 Band-aids out of 5.

– Howe gives it 6 “yes, that is the correct score” out of 5.

Reel Reviews with Brian Taylor and Peter Howe appears in The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.


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