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View Full Version : Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)



Watashi
11-15-2014, 06:11 AM
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CtD86j_hwt8/U-2eBp2eqVI/AAAAAAAAADM/w8LKwHqrjtc/s1600/whiplash.jpg

Watashi
11-15-2014, 06:15 AM
Surprised there isn't a thread for this one.

This was terrific. Tense as fuck. When Simmons and Teller aren't on screen together, it becomes serviceable, but those moments are very sparse.

Ezee E
11-15-2014, 09:10 PM
Surprised there isn't a thread for this one.

This was terrific. Tense as fuck. When Simmons and Teller aren't on screen together, it becomes serviceable, but those moments are very sparse.

You can clearly see everything that's happening here, but Simmons, Teller, and the jazz work so well that it is a good movie. Like wats says, everything outside of that is kind of serviceable. Lame in a way.

But it does work.

Ezee E
11-15-2014, 09:12 PM
I was able to suspend disbelief, but no way a teacher is able to get away with his comments in this day and age.

If this took place in the late 80's to 90's, it'd make sense.

I won't take that as a hit in the movie, just something I thought about in reflection .

Lazlo
11-21-2014, 02:42 AM
Yay for the performances and the high-wire intensity of the mood which is sustained admirably for much of the running time. Nay for some of the second-half plot contrivances.

Everything after Andrew's accident rang false. And the final performance is really tough to suspend disbelief over. Why would Fletcher hire Andrew only to put him in the position of not knowing the opening number or at least having the sheet music? It makes Fletcher and his entire band look bad. This would never ever happen. It's one thing to throw Andrew off his game by telling him that he knew it was Andrew that got him fired. He's got the faith in Andrew to be talented and strong enough to raise his game and play though that. But to throw him to the wolves in that opening number reflects poorly on everyone onstage, not just Andrew, and it perhaps especially bad for Fletcher to have his band on such a big stage unprepared.

Ezee E
11-21-2014, 09:47 PM
Yay for the performances and the high-wire intensity of the mood which is sustained admirably for much of the running time. Nay for some of the second-half plot contrivances.

Everything after Andrew's accident rang false. And the final performance is really tough to suspend disbelief over. Why would Fletcher hire Andrew only to put him in the position of not knowing the opening number or at least having the sheet music? It makes Fletcher and his entire band look bad. This would never ever happen. It's one thing to throw Andrew off his game by telling him that he knew it was Andrew that got him fired. He's got the faith in Andrew to be talented and strong enough to raise his game and play though that. But to throw him to the wolves in that opening number reflects poorly on everyone onstage, not just Andrew, and it perhaps especially bad for Fletcher to have his band on such a big stage unprepared.


Agreed actually, even if it was just another "test."

Watashi
11-21-2014, 09:52 PM
I don't see how the end is a contrivance. Fletcher is psychotic and will do anything to push Andrew over the limit even if it means tricking him to perform the wrong music to see how he would react. The other band members likely fear him and won't do anything to stop him. Fletcher doesn't care about the "big moment." He's pretty much a Sith Lord looking for his next apprentice.

Lazlo
11-21-2014, 10:49 PM
I don't see how the end is a contrivance. Fletcher is psychotic and will do anything to push Andrew over the limit even if it means tricking him to perform the wrong music to see how he would react. The other band members likely fear him and won't do anything to stop him. Fletcher doesn't care about the "big moment." He's pretty much a Sith Lord looking for his next apprentice.

When I said contrivance I was more thinking of the flat bus tire, no cabs, car accident stuff leading to the middle contest. I get that it expands on Andrew's drive, but come on.

As for the final concert, that's the type of thing that would get Fletcher blackballed from conducting serious bands. Sure there's some outsized personality stuff on display that you have to suspend disbelief over, but so much of the movie is based in a gritty reality that it's hard to shrug off in the final ten minutes. Everything else Fletcher does is believable. And I don't buy that the professional musicians fear Fletcher. Notice how he pumps them up before the concert and compare how he tears his students down before their contests.

This is a lot of nitpicking on my part for a movie I ultimately liked fine. But it lost me in that final scene.

dreamdead
12-13-2014, 03:14 AM
This was thrilling and the sort of acting showcase for Simmons that rewards a solid career. As others noted, it becomes less breathtaking whenever Simmons and Teller aren't coexisting on the screen. The female relationship is treated like so much disposable trash, and while that mentality certainly exists, it feel too patented, rather than fully earned. Largely because the film is reluctant to commit to her and Teller's relationship in any meaningful way; she exists simply so that she can be dumped.

The ending and the desire to tank the whole competition just to spite Teller, though... that part felt wholly in character for Simmons. His outrage and self-belief in using that temperament to challenge others to rise to his skill, even if he's not expecting any triumph here. I will say that that sequence started becoming interminable despite the general escalating tension. It become a matter where I kept waiting for Chazelle to cut to black. He earns the ending, but there were two or three overt possibilities.

Dead & Messed Up
12-23-2014, 10:09 PM
Lot of feelings on this one. On the one hand, completely admire that this film devotes itself to the development of a skill and recognizes how difficult that can be (the old 10,000 hours skill-acquiring is typically coasted over in a montage in most movies), but not so sure I'm onboard with either lead character as a useful symbol of dream-catchery. Then again, the film may be ambivalent about the whole situation - Fletcher's argument in that coffee shop could play as a mission statement for the film... or him self-justifying his own mild form of sociopathy (the fact that it might be both is disturbing).

The drum sequences manage to stay interesting through the hundred-odd minutes, which is no easy task. Whipping back and forth between Fletcher and Andrew is a nice visual highlight. I agree that the girlfriend could've been managed better, and the film might've been better in general to spend a shade more time showcasing how his drumming completely isolates him from meaningful human contact, but Andrew doesn't care, so I suppose the film doesn't either.

What I keep thinking about is that idea that Fletcher has, that someone needs to be prodded to the point of death-threats in order to achieve their best. Andrew counters by asking how many Fletcher's discouraged from being "a great" with his tactics. Fletcher says none, because a great wouldn't get discouraged. Which brings up a question that goes unanswered: would a "great" musician really take "good job" as incentive to settle? Or would they say, "Cool, let's see if I can do better"? Simmons' line is a great one, but I think it finally says more about him than it does about the threat of everyone-gets-a-medal culture.

Regarding the late-film plot twists:

I bought that Teller would have so much trouble getting there on time. The car accident felt contrived (and curiously forgotten after it's served its narrative function, like the girlfriend), but plausible given the circumstance. I took Fletcher risking his own reputation to ruin Andrew at face value. Fletcher's already been discharged from his school and is stuck playing downtempo jazz in a hole in the wall. And he's treated musicians as props since the start of the movie (mocking the fat trombonist and discharging him to make a point), so I don't doubt he'd do that to every musician on stage when it's about mutually assured destruction. Could it have all been a ploy? I don't think it was intended as a final test, but Andrew certainly made it so. When Fletcher threatens to gouge out his eyes at the end, Andrew reads it as a come-on, not a threat.

Irish
01-06-2015, 10:54 AM
I like the start and end of this but not so much the middle.

I agree with others that said it feels contrived. I think it feels contrived because there's no good way to photograph the personal sacrifice and emotional turmoil that comes with producing great art. Maybe Amadeus came closest. Maybe the Fabulous Baker Boys.

They backed themselves into a corner early with a protagonist who (1) only ever wants one thing, and it's something that he can't achieve on his own and (2) making him so completely single minded. There's no where to go, dramatically, with a character like that.

The girlfriend doesn't work because if the kid were as determined as the film makes him out to be, he never would have asked the her out in the first place. If he were as focused, he wouldn't, at 19, lose sheet music, misplace his sticks, or be late for competitions.

The plot turns read better as metaphor. That truck isn't a truck but a symbol of the obstacles life throws at you as you persue your dreams. The problem for me was that, well, I was stuck reading all this great realism -- the band practices, the music -- as metaphor. It's less interesting that way. But the script doesn't leave much choice with dinner party scenes where someone asks the kid, point blank, "Do you have any friends?" That moment struck me as necessary but inelegant in a movie that reaches for perfect tempo and pitch everywhere else. There's great drama in the studio but outside it, the film never doesn't know how to say what it wants to say, so it blurts out subtext and themes in dialogue.

For a movie that sells this message about the hard work and perseverance, it bends over backwards to make sure the kid isn't responsible for every bad thing that happens to him. Up until the third act, the plot is arbitrary. It stacks the deck to a ridiculous degree. I think that's why, despite the music and the performances, I choked on the larger experience.

MadMan
01-28-2015, 08:54 AM
I loved this although I felt it was a darker take on the search for relevance and meaning, the desire for fame and respect that was at the center of Birdman. The two also have commanding main performances and a jazzy style score. However I find Birdman to be more interesting even as Whiplash is complex in dealing with Andrew and Fletcher's masochistic relationship.

The scene where Andrew snaps at his brothers was very telling. I didn't care for the parts with Nichole because they were kind of dull and pointless. We already know that Andrew has no connections to other people. So I get what that was supposed to mean but it didn't work. Also the jazz club scene could have been cut.

Otherwise this is a disturbing and intense film. I liked the ending too, which had plenty of drum soloing heh. Also this film and Wild both are films that involve the main characters pushing themselves beyond the limits of the human pain threshold to achieve something they are striving for.

dreamdead
01-28-2015, 12:30 PM
The scene where Andrew snaps at his brothers was very telling. I didn't care for the parts with Nichole because they were kind of dull and pointless. We already know that Andrew has no connections to other people. So I get what that was supposed to mean but it didn't work. Also the jazz club scene could have been cut.


I'll take issue on the latter point here. If the jazz club scene is cut, Simmons ends up playing at just one register for the whole film. The jazz club scene situates a gentler, more humane character for Fletcher and allows Neimann to believe that Fletcher isn't just about humiliation. There's a level of impotence that both characters explore in their dialogue in this scene, which is necessary to establish the varying degrees of Neimann's submission in the coda. That is, will Neimann submit to Fletcher's humiliation in public, will he struggle to hold himself above the fray, etc.

The more I think about this film, the more I think there's an interesting dynamic that goes underexplored between Neimann and his father. Something in his environment/biology already made him this way before his interactions with Fletcher; the film could have interestingly suggested that Reiser is responsible for some of that.

MadMan
01-28-2015, 06:25 PM
I suppose that's true even though I still feel that Fletcher was semi humanized during the Sean Casey scene. The jazz club feels a bit too much like an exercise to move the plot forward towards the final act. I liked the ending (and I was surprised that Reiser was in this) as its absolutely brutal and hard to watch. I also found it interesting how Reiser goes from smiling at his kid showing up Fletcher to then horrified as he realizes that his son has embraced Fletcher's insanity in an attempt to become great.

Andrew is desperate to escape his family's limitations. That said I found Birdman and Whiplash to for now leaving me just a bit unsatisfied near the conclusion. I can't explain it really.

PS: During the second half I was reminded of an old saying: "The fall is gonna kill yah."

PPS: I liked Wats saying (I think it was him) that Fletcher is a Sith lord. After all he's always dressed in black.

Qrazy
02-03-2015, 03:25 AM
I enjoyed this dramatically but it's also bullshit. Jazz drummers don't bleed like that and having him actually experience whiplash from a car accident was so on the nose. The female lead is also under written.

transmogrifier
02-04-2015, 02:40 AM
58/100

One-note and manipulative, though moderately effective in its own way. Simmons is so integral to whatever success it has that the rest of the film around him just seems like padding so that it could be feature length. Instead, interesting avenues like the family dynamics and the girlfriend are raised and then dropped so that we can move onto some more shouting.

Dukefrukem
02-06-2015, 12:16 AM
Okay, I want this to win Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor.

Dukefrukem
02-06-2015, 01:47 PM
I was able to suspend disbelief, but no way a teacher is able to get away with his comments in this day and age.
.

But he didn't get away with it.

Dead & Messed Up
02-07-2015, 11:55 PM
He'd clearly been getting away with it for years.

Morris Schæffer
02-09-2015, 09:32 PM
My first four star film since The Wolf of Wall Street. Yeah, I get what some of you are saying. I was thinking whether, after the car accident, that was a sign of the enduring nature of the human spirit or whether I merely saw someone channeling his inner Chigurh. So it's a little manipulative. Fuck it. At least I'm feeling it. So he's bleeding all over his drum set. I felt nearly uncomfortable watching him go at it, face contorted in something approaching agony. So Fletcher's over the top. But at least he's a presence, a force of nature, it works. Surprised at how moved I was when Nicole told Andrew she'd have to ask her boyfriend if she could attend the jazz festival. Perhaps ***½ would be more apt, but I'm too exhilarated to care right now.

Grouchy
02-18-2015, 07:12 AM
In one word, overrated.

I don't really get the praise. Sure, J.K. Simmons is stellar, that Reed Richards Jr. kid is great and that's a memorable montage of Caravan, but the story is glorified Hollywood bullshit. An extended Pai Mei training sequence set to drums. I mainly take issue with the assumption that this little prize-seeking movie is saying anything at all meaningful about art, personal sacrifice or the search for perfection. It's just a manipulative drama which only works until it becomes unintentionally funny, which happens often.

Raiders
02-20-2015, 05:21 PM
Hank Levy is a pretty big deal around the Baltimore area to this day with many of his former Towson University students involved in the music education field. I myself met him a few times in high school and he even led a little jazz jam session we did my junior year (not long before he died) and he worked with me on the saxophone. I didn't realize the title and the jazz work in this film is his splendid "Whiplash" tune. Highly intrigued, especially since it appears to be worth the look.

number8
03-10-2015, 02:18 AM
I was thinking that Chazelle is lucky to be able to direct this himself, because this script could easily be mis-made into a movie about determination and the pursuit of greatness, rather than what the cinematography and editing tells me, which is a tragedy about loneliness. The movie ends on a crescendo but it seems obvious that it's telling us one of them will end up dead soon.

MadMan
03-10-2015, 07:37 AM
Well midway through the film reveals that One of the previous students killed himself. So maybe that's a bit of ominous foreshadowing even if the film doesn't showcase what happens after the final drum solo.

number8
03-10-2015, 02:12 PM
It's also not just that Fletcher has a student who killed himself because of him, it's that Fletcher lied about the suicide, calling into question his sincerity in all of his "likable" scenes (I even shuddered when he was being cute with the little girl). I strongly disagree whenever I hear people describe this movie as a movie about "a music student and an emotionally abusive teacher" (which is often) because Andrew himself is portrayed as having a real nasty streak, rather than just an ambitious kid. There's a lot of body language stuff happening with Teller in the family dinner and dating scenes, like he just doesn't have the patience for any of it and is disgusted by the mediocrity he sees in other people. I don't think Nicole is meant to illustrate what he has to give up to succeed, because if that's the case, we would have seen more of what attracts him to her in order to stress the sacrifice. Instead, their first date is him looking down on her and her lack of ambitions and physically withdrawing from her, and she's the one who makes the move with the shot of her foot touching his. Then we skip everything else and the next time we see her, he's dumping her with the most condescending and psychopathic excuse. The whole movie seems to me more like a portrait of two socially maladjusted people who are content with creating puffed up delusions about themselves by focusing their anger and dissatisfaction at each other. The movie ends with them collaborating on stage not because it's a moment of victory, but because there's literally nowhere else for them to go.

Dukefrukem
03-10-2015, 02:45 PM
I. Absolutely. Love. That. Analysis. 8.

transmogrifier
03-11-2015, 01:09 AM
I don't like the movie, but yeah, it's obvious the kid is meant to be a total dick.

Dead & Messed Up
03-11-2015, 03:16 AM
The whole movie seems to me more like a portrait of two socially maladjusted people who are content with creating puffed up delusions about themselves by focusing their anger and dissatisfaction at each other. The movie ends with them collaborating on stage not because it's a moment of victory, but because there's literally nowhere else for them to go.

This. On RT I called it a romance about two obsessive maniacs who find and deserve each other. The performance at the end is their version of sex.

Pop Trash
03-25-2015, 08:57 PM
I mean...I'm racking my brain trying to figure out a scenario where Fletcher wouldn't be fired after a few months, or even a few weeks. I guess it's possible, but having worked in higher ed, it would be a huge stretch.

slqrick
08-03-2015, 05:53 AM
Saw this really late so don't know if anyone cares about this movie anymore. One of the best things I've been in a while. Thought it was really well done the way they subtly (and often times not to subtly - which is why those scenes with the girl made absolute sense) hinted at the kid being on the spectrum.

Does everyone still love this or is this like Looper, which I don't see the internet mention much anymore.

Dead & Messed Up
08-03-2015, 06:35 AM
Saw this really late so don't know if anyone cares about this movie anymore. One of the best things I've been in a while. Thought it was really well done the way they subtly (and often times not to subtly - which is why those scenes with the girl made absolute sense) hinted at the kid being on the spectrum.

Does everyone still love this or is this like Looper, which I don't see the internet mention much anymore.

I liked it more and more, to the point that it's my favorite film of last year. I see it mentioned quite a bit on Reddit.

DavidSeven
08-07-2015, 04:21 AM
Conflict is drama, and this certainly has it in spades. Making the protagonist a borderline sociopath mirroring his antagonist was an inspired touch and a tricky element to pull off. It thankfully avoids the trap of devolving into trope-y "there's more to life" idealism. Ultimately, however, I'm not sure there's more here than pure tension. Every scene featuring Andrew and Fletcher going at it is pin-droppingly taut, but I'm not sure the other emotional beats really land. Andrew's interactions with both his father and girlfriend are woefully underwritten and/or inconsistent. It seems the father is intended to be extremely paternal one moment, and in the next, he's ruthlessly throwing verbal jabs at him over dinner. (I get he was being an asshole, but what?) Each scene with the girlfriend feels like plot-point fulfillment rather than organic creation. Character doesn't really exist here outside the two leads, but honestly, the conflict present whenever they're in a room together is so good it almost doesn't matter. If nothing else, it is a compelling example of how an entire feature can be more or less carried by two guys in a room arguing over tempo.

Ezee E
08-07-2015, 04:58 AM
The parts with the girlfriend and parents sure seem like something that got developed out of "script notes" or "reviews."

Sycophant
08-10-2015, 11:49 AM
True. But at least it gave me some Paul Reiser time.