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Whiplash movie review

If J.K. Simmons doesn’t get an Oscar, he wuz robbed. Not sure about the lead, Miles Teller. I’m still turning over his performance in my head. Which means it was probably better. Less showy, more subtle – there are layers there. Which the awards ceremonies rarely reward.

Excellent movie. It had me squirming and sitting up in my seat at the appropriate moments.

That said, yeah, Buddy Rich is no drummer’s role model. And I mean no. None. No one gets that far with BR as their goal. Though J.K. Simmons’ role is closer to BR than Miles Teller’s. Perhaps the filmmaker thought that BR was the only jazz drummer most audiences would be familiar with and used him as a marker? That’s what I thought while I was sitting there.

Generally young musicians don’t go into jazz because they’re looking for R. Lee Ermey to guide them. They’re a bit more free-spirit-ed, and more likely to bail out and go play somewhere else…

Honestly, and this is what’s important, the movie moved fast enough that I didn’t stop to think about it until I got out. And I’ve been thinking about it non-stop since I left the theater. That’s a recommendation for a good movie.

At that stage in a young drummer’s life, they’re imitating everyone. Jo Jones, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Max Roach, Tain Watts, Billy Cobham, Steve Gadd. Maybe I’m just listing my influences. Perhaps a missed opportunity to show the immersion into other peoples’ styles, until you emerge with one of your own.

However, in the service of a 107 minute movie that had me on the edge of my seat for lots of it, and the only movie about drumming most people will ever see, then that’s more than acceptable movie shorthand.

Five stars. Two Oscar-worthy performances, great suspense movie cinematography, well-used in a movie about musicians, for crissakes!, great story, a fast-mover. If you ever thought about being a musician, go see it. Or even if you didn’t.