Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Whiplash

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A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.

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Cast

Miles Teller – Andrew Neiman

J.K. Simmons – Terence Fletcher

Paul Reiser – Jim Neiman

Melissa Benoist – Nicole

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Loud

A word of warning: if you dislike loud and repetitive noise, avoid this movie.
Whiplash opens with a drum roll, which bursts into a lengthy performance played out by Andrew as he bashes away with passion. But it doesn’t stop there – the drumming is pretty much constant for the movie’s entire 106 minutes. And it’s very loud. One scene towards the end of the feature actually surprised me; Andrew sits at his drum kit in front of a live theatre audience and hammers away – for a very long time. It’s a pivoting moment for the character as he strives to impress his mentor as well as a handful of critics, and by god does his desperation show. In fact, his solo performance lasted for so long it became strangely hypnotic. I sat with my mouth slightly hanging open throughout the whole thing, stunned at both the length and Miles Teller’s dripping-wet (he sweats a lot during Whiplash) energy. The actor seriously pulls it out of the bag not just for this ending scene, but during the entire movie.

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Miles Surprises

I have to say, I’ve never really enjoyed Miles Teller – in anything I’ve seen him in. That Awkward Moment being the most tedious and tackiest of his cinematic feats. The young and slightly bland actor seems to have been brilliantly miscast for some real trashy things, so when I noticed he was the lead role in Whiplash my first reaction was, “great” – with deepest sarcasm. But I took my seat in the cinema and wondered if this one would be different.

..I was pleasantly surprised.

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Miles didn’t overdo it at all, his performance was strong and passionate. He kept me interested throughout the entire movie, helped mainly by the bizarre plot. What Miles does is bring to life a struggling character in a way that radiates sheer tension, and anger. I didn’t find the actor overly entertaining – but very interesting. To be fair, Miles spends 85% of the movie sat down bashing at drums so there isn’t a lot of dynamic here. But it makes for captivating watching; in a kind of “I wonder what will happen to him in the end – will he make it?” type way. I enjoy movies that contain this element, a subtle story with a big question hanging over it. Like Locke in 2013: a single man driving down a motorway for the entire feature – should have been boring as sin, but had me intrigued the whole time, wondering if he’d achieve his goal. Make it to his destination.

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Miles delivers his character effortlessly and is certainy a good fit for it.

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Terrifying Teacher

Music academy mentor Terence Fletcher is one man you DO NOT want to get on the wrong side of. Because he’s nasty. But brilliant.

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Actor J.K. Simmons brings the conductor to life superbly, and had the audience laughing heartily at some of his acid-tongued speeches. Imagine a teacher at school you were terrified of – and amplify that feeling by 80%. Because Terence is nasty. He shouts, swears, even throws chairs – which skim the head of Andrew narrowly before smashing into the wall behind him. In fact the conductor of the academy is so harsh that he manages to reduce Andrew to tears with a single sentence. This man is smoking with such arrogance that it’s fantastic to watch. Whenever Simmons was on screen, I found myself smirking with deep satisfaction at his excellent dynamics; the man doesn’t even have to move his body much, it’s his voice that brings all the toxic glory.

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Terence is deliciously detestable, barking instructions in a way that would make Army cadets cower, and never missing an opportunity to insult members of his band. His talent at reducing the most dedicated of musician to tears makes for an intriguing watch. In fact, I found myself sat there wondering what on earth he was about to come out with next – he’s the exact sort of character who could snap at any moment, the normal dialogue he delivers taking an immediate turn into something nasty. This was a fantastic addition to the movie’s dynamic, I loved wondering – waiting – for whatever he was going to shout next at his students. Amd some of his insults are just hilarious.
Top marks here.

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Showtime Showdown

Towards the end of Whiplash, the tension reaches an almighty climax as Andrew is rejected by Terence – but makes a career threatening U-turn and delivers a final performance which stuns everyone in the auditorium. This scene makes for an intriguing watch, as the lead character is thrown into turmoil literally halfway through a live performance with hundreds of audience watching. And the drum solo Andrew bashes out – wow.

When it’s his turn to play, Andrew smashes his way through a rendition so loud and lengthy, I sat staring in awe. The performance lasted for so long it was almost never ending. On and on he bashes, dripping with sweat, the drumming becoming so loud that it almost sounded like the same continuous sound. Again, if you dislike loud noise / music – avoid! I’m not a fan of drumming but even I found this scene fascinating. The passion and energy driven into it by Miles Teller was excellent, and coupled with the extraordinary lenghth of the performance, won me over instantly.

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Whiplash was weird. Perhaps weird isn’t the right word, but I speak in terms of its overall concept. Its a movie about something as simple as playing drums, yet delivers it on the big screen with such tension and angry passion that it radiates a brilliant energy. If you’re a musician yourself (any instrument) or studying music, I would highly reccommend this movie – it’s right up your alley.
I am nowhere near a fan of Miles Teller, but in Whiplash I have to say he was superb. His energy is faultless, his character convincing – and intriguing.

And as for J.K. Simmons – what a man. This actor fuels a magnificent dynamic into the movie, which probably wouldn’t have been as effective without him. His character is a nasty bastard, brimming with tension, anger and yet admirable passion for his work. He is acid-tongued which brings laughter and surprise from the audience, and remains a huge looming presence throughout the movie – just by standing there with a certain look in his eye. It’s a fantastic watch.

Teller and Simmons were perfectly cast for Whiplash, their on-screen chemistry worked very well. So the story was basic – but by god, do those two bring it crashing to life with sparks.

Weird. Aggressive. Energized.

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This entry was posted on January 24, 2015 by .
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