Whiplash

(Damien Chazelle, 2014)

with Robb Stey and Mike Lavoie, Eccles Theatre, 1/26/14

9

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This is it.  This is why we go to the movies.  Whiplash is tight, smart, relentless, exciting, funny, grounded, and terrifyingly assured.  The editing is sharp and crisp and musical, the performances rich and lived-in, the cinematography clever and beautiful but never self-indulgent.  Best of all, Whiplash remains unpredictable, in spite of its clean, stripped-down premise and ceaseless forward momentum.  What starts out as a portrait of perfectionism in all its reckless and destructive glory slowly evolves into a breathtaking battle of wills between two driven, uncompromising, fiercely competitive men.

Why are unrepentant assholes such a gift to the cinema?  Because 1) they’re funny; 2) they say what we can’t; 3) they force other characters to react (and thus drive the story forward); and 4) their rare moments of tenderness are all the sweeter for being unexpected.  The character of Terence Fletcher, played pitch-perfectly by J. K. Simmons, is an unrepentant asshole for the books.  He’s also a fully-rounded human being who believes in music – so much that he may be willing to kill for it.  How many music-lovers can say the same?

See this movie.  Whenever and wherever you can.  It’s bracing and galvanizing.  It will make you glad you exist.

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Published in: on January 27, 2014 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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