Whiplash (Dir. Damien Chazelle/2015)
Whiplash smashes through the screen, past the mahogany walls and smooth décor that oozes class. Glistening trumpets and sexy saxophones sing. These Jazz musicians are above the common goal of acceptable standard. They are like sports athletes, and they are shot as such. Director Damien Chazelle frames men and women, preparing to rehearse Whiplash, as if they are on the blocks of a 100m race. Trombones boldly play as a piano slinks in and out of rhythms and meandering melodies. The percussion is the glue that holds them together. Conductor and teacher, Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons), will rip the beat out and force it to stick if necessary. He’ll hire a musician merely to raise another’s game. He’ll fire a musician because they’re out of tune. It is the unworkable expectations of a man in search of the next Charlie Parker. Andrew (Miles Teller) wants to be this man. Friendship and relationships are second place to his ambition. A relentless onslaught of dominance, Whiplash captures the raw animalism of these duelling beasts. It’s inevitable that one will devour the other. The moment we sniff a human grin of subtle pride, Andrew is immediately knocked down by Fletcher. He needs to bleed for his music and plasters only hold so much blood. The ‘fun’ Fletcher claims Andrew should seek, is sadomasochistic and destructive. If, and how, he survives is what we’re observing. And it is an awesome sight to behold. You’ll be out of breath when the credits hit the snare.