Whiplash (2014): A promising young drummer enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential.
I.....I....wow. This is...far and away the best movie of 2014. Not only is it the best movie of 2014, it is the best film I have ever EVER had the privilege of reviewing here on Enter the Movies. This movie is a complete and total masterpiece of cinema. Flawless. Perfection. I cannot recommend enough that you go and see this movie as soon as humanely possible. The theme set up here is a very thought-provoking theme, and it is sheer and utter genius on behalf of the filmmaker Damien Chazelle to leave the question this movie presents with this theme...unanswered. You don't see that nowadays. Now I know some of you may say, "Of course Joe likes this movie, he's a freaking music nerd!" But no. This movie is as dramatically intense as it is musically intense, if not more so! Never have I been on the edge of my seat more than when I was watching this 107 minute marvel. For the love of God, go see it.
So. This movie does everything right, and nothing wrong. But I'll just focus on a few of the highlights. First off, the acting. J.K. Simmons is nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and likely the favorite to win it. This performance of his is the best I've ever seen from him, which is saying something. Easily one of the best performances of the year, Simmons is entrancing and intimidating as Fletcher, the instructor, creating one of the most unique characters I have ever seen. While Simmons is the performance everyone is talking about, we cannot forget to mention Miles Teller. His performance is extraordinary enough as is, but then when you take into account the fact that he's also doing the actual drumming in the film? He blew me away just as much as Simmons did. There's also an incredible and undeniable chemistry between these two characters from the first moment they interact all the way through the incredible and climatic finish. And the supporting cast is great too! Paul Reiser is excellent as Teller's father, despite only being in a few scenes. Actually his few scenes are incredibly powerful as he watches his son strive to be one of the greats and goes through a wide array of emotions during this journey.
And then there's the rest of the movie. The editing. The freaking editing! Some of the best editing I've seen in a long time. The editing just screams jazz. And the cinematography, too. The scenes involving drumming were shot beautifully, and will become synonymous with jazz. From closeups of the individual pieces of the drum set to crazy cuts between the pieces to symbolize the frantic pace of the solo, Chazelle and company simply left me breathless with these scenes. The story, also written by Director Chazelle, is obviously phenomenal. I would really love to know how much of this movie was improv'd between Simmons and Teller, because their interactions are so damn organic! But I will probably never know. Additionally, the character portrayed by Simmons is portrayed in such a relatable way. Everyone has, at some point, had a boss like Simmons who will stop at nothing to obtain greatness out of their employees. I know I have. And that's the incredible theme this movie has. With the right incentive, those who are good can achieve greatness. But the question is....at what cost? When does achieving greatness cost too much? That's the question this movie leaves you with. Unanswered. And that is why it is a masterpiece and the best film I have ever reviewed. Please. I know I say go see movies, but please. Go. See. This. Movie.
The Critique: One of the greatest movies of this decade. Whiplash is the definition of a masterpiece in its truest sense. The best film I've ever reviewed.
The Recommendation: An absolute must-watch for anyone. Even more so for those who love music, but everyone should see this movie at this point.
Rewatchability: Infinite (I've already seen this movie twice at the time of this writing, and I watched it for the first time less than a week ago)
The Verdict: 10/10 Perfect
Oscar Talk: So the movie did receive several nominations (six!) and I think it deserves to win all six. However, realistically, I think this movie will win Best Editing and Best Supporting Actor. Seriously, though. Please go see this movie. PLEASE.
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