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Did anyone see the movie, Whiplash?

If so, can you enlighten me? Frankly, apart from a good performance by J.K. Simmons, the genial Allstate man gone mad, I didn’t know what to make of it. It certainly wasn’t about jazz… but maybe I’m missing something.

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Comments

  • @LinearLineman I always felt unease towards that movie, until this guy summarized it (if I remember correctly) as "it's a sports movie disguised as a music movie". I couldn't agree more:

  • edited February 24

    Saw the TV show. That was enough... :smiley:

  • I think the movie Shine with Geoffrey Rush was much more on target about the consequences of stress and competition that musicians who take their art seriously encounter.

    This movie tho… A music teacher slapping a student across the face multiple times…. Wellll.

  • I remember loving it when I saw it. I've heard it is not especially realistic for anyone who knows their jazz, but as a story about ambition and sacrifice (cruelty..) I thought it was very good indeed. The ending in particular I thought was very striking.

    Another not especially realistic but with some interesting stuff about music, ambition and mental health is Frank with Michael Fassbender.

  • @nickneek said:
    I remember loving it when I saw it. I've heard it is not especially realistic for anyone who knows their jazz, but as a story about ambition and sacrifice (cruelty..) I thought it was very good indeed. The ending in particular I thought was very striking.

    Another not especially realistic but with some interesting stuff about music, ambition and mental health is Frank with Michael Fassbender.

    It’s quite realistic to classical/jazz Conservatorium & education.

    Fwiw I liked it a lot. It reminds me a lot of when I was practicing 10+ hours a day.

  • I learned that "played until my fingers bled" doesn't only apply to guitar.

  • @Grandbear, that makes sense. Lol, they should have that as a disclaimer,

  • To me it had the plot dynamics of a "Boot Camp" movie where the protagonist is broken down by a sadistic drill sergeant: "an officer and a gentleman" or the even more sadistic "Cool Hand Luke" with a Christ metaphor in a Southern Work Camp jail. "What we have hear is a failure to communicate."

    A sadistic college professor wouldn't dare get physical with a student or abuse him to that level so there were witnesses. I had a sadistic band director and he was never caught abusing students but he certainly leveraged a clue of fear and used humiliation as a rehearsal tool. But subtle as a request for excellence without ever suggesting violence. Just gut wrenching fear of getting the wrong attention.

    He came to my senior recital and was a judge. After 4 years I was able to perform without once thinking of him. He told me afterwards "I got to the point where I stopped waiting for you to make a mistake." That was his highest form of compliment. I was close to being perfect. As a freshman I had to audition for him and shook so bad I almost changed majors. I still hate that MF'er but he helped me know myself and after getting my degree I decided never to be a band director even thought that was the intent of my degree in Music Ed. College is for growing up. I went back later for a degree that was for making money and a life of continuous education: Computer Engineering.

    The director of Whiplash has a fixation on jazz as the pinnacle of human existence... the dedicated protagonist that must pursue art at all costs. His follow up movie was "La La Land" with the cocktail lounge pianist and the sadistic club owner that wanted him to play for the customers and stop playing moody non-commercial jazz. Slightly better use of jazz as a metaphor since this young director has to navigate getting movies made in the Hollywood system and got to make more movies because they made money.

    I wonder what he's working on... maybe a Horror Flick where a bass player finds his upright bass is inhabited by a little asian girl that sings as he plays and makes his bass sound out of tune.

  • @McD said:
    I wonder what he's working on... maybe a Horror Flick where a bass player finds his upright bass is inhabited by a little asian girl that sings as he plays and makes his bass sound out of tune.

    I would watch the hell out of that movie.

  • @Ailerom said:
    I learned that "played until my fingers bled" doesn't only apply to guitar.

    The great drummers learn to play without an ounce of tension and the sticks do NOT create calluses.
    They float on the hands.

    If you're really interested in this concept check out this panel with some of Murray Spivak's top students. Murray taught hundreds of pros with Vinnie Coliuta being one of the most outstanding technical players of his generation:

    Chad Wackerman and Vinnie played with Zappa and Murray gave them the skills to play the most complicated notation imaginable. Watching Chad and Vinnie play is like watching Zen Master Chefs where there are not wasted motions. They can play for hours and hours without fatigue. They don't hit the drums... they stimulate them to resonate and let the mics pick up the best sound and give it volume needed to fill stadiums. Hitting a drum too hard kills the tone. I'm sure these concepts apply to all instruments. Listening/watching the best technical players you can see that they are never straining.

  • edited February 24

    I liked it a lot. It’s been awhile since I watched it, But imho it aims at showing a few things, using Jazz drums as the background, and the thread that binds. It shows the dynamics of unconventional or unhealthy relationships and how they progress, effect those involved, and effect those around them. It also shows the extreme dedication, endless repetition, and struggles that highly talented artists must go through, or even someone like an Olympian must endure, to get to that highest possible level.

    JK crosses many lines, on many levels, in a progressively unhealthy manner. A lot of things in life are a slow burn, the frog staying in a slowly heated pot for example, was always a fascinating concept to me. unhealthy relationships are often like this. By showing this, hopefully it can help people understand more about unhealthy relationships, warning signs, and staying away from them, There’s some more stuff in there too, but that was the 2 main things I took away from the movie.

  • @Poppadocrock, the Simmons character played a big part in the suicide of that very early student of his (which he lied about). At best it was a morality play, IMO. The tribulations of music students is a reality, of course, but the relentless sadism, as well as the endless pain on the kid’s face while drumming…. Unreal and hyperbolic… ending in the sadomasochistic victory and pleasure by the drummer boy to be acknowledged by his tormentor…. Ummm, I don’t think it can all be honed down to Elvin Jones hurling a cymbal at Bird. Cymbolic, maybe, but suspension of disbelief… didn’t happen for me.

  • @LinearLineman said:
    @Poppadocrock, the Simmons character played a big part in the suicide of that very early student of his (which he lied about). At best it was a morality play, IMO. The tribulations of music students is a reality, of course, but the relentless sadism, as well as the endless pain on the kid’s face while drumming…. Unreal and hyperbolic… ending in the sadomasochistic victory and pleasure by the drummer boy to be acknowledged by his tormentor…. Ummm, I don’t think it can all be honed down to Elvin Jones hurling a cymbal at Bird. Cymbolic, maybe, but suspension of disbelief… didn’t happen for me.

    I hear ya. It is a morality piece. I think the excellent drumming gave it a boost for me. Still I liked it.

  • @Poppadocrock, yeah, it kept me interested, too.

  • As a professional drummer that loves jazz, in particular, I found that movie to be one stinking pile. It indeed would've made its point much better as a sports movie.

    There was nothing in that flick that showed why those young musicians would even want to play music. I've never had a Big Band rehearsal where everyone looked like they want to be somewhere else.

    Drummers don't play until their hands bleed. (Though some dopey conga players do. lol)

    Drummers playing jazz don't set their kit up like a rock kit, with one ride cymbal and one crash.

    No musician can be beaten into a natural talent such as Buddy Rich or whoever.

    And that last part with the drum solo? Gah....

    (Though it was fun to argue with some dopey young commenter on YouTube who insisted that the actor actually played that solo. He did indeed do some of the drumming, but that solo and any of the difficult stuff was done by a pro. Rumour has it that Bernie Dresel, perhaps best known as the Brian Setzer Orchestra drummer, was the guy.)

    I feel much better now for venting. Thank-you and goodnight! ;)

  • Thanks for that @MarkR. The vent felt good to me, too 😉🙏

  • Yeah I saw it, and I shared many of the negative feeling expressed above. It felt like a filmmaker’s hyped take on a subject they clearly love, but somehow fundamentally misunderstand, and misplacing those feelings leading to cliche and exaggeration beyond all belief. I’ve only wanted to walk out of a few movies, this was one of them. (The lobster being another) I’ve mostly cleaned my memory of it, but what I do remember was cheesy cutting and over acting/scenery chewing on an epic scale, alongside that sports/karate movie plot course - some of the cinematography was quite lovely though, same with the lobster actually…

  • I liked it a lot, not really a jazz fan though, just thought the drumming sounded cool.

  • The movie was stupid. Completely unrealistic.
    Nevertheless I found it very entertaining and enjoyed it very much.

  • @McD said:
    To me it had the plot dynamics of a "Boot Camp" movie where the protagonist is broken down by a sadistic drill sergeant: "an officer and a gentleman" or the even more sadistic "Cool Hand Luke" with a Christ metaphor in a Southern Work Camp jail. "What we have hear is a failure to communicate."

    A sadistic college professor wouldn't dare get physical with a student or abuse him to that level so there were witnesses. I had a sadistic band director and he was never caught abusing students but he certainly leveraged a clue of fear and used humiliation as a rehearsal tool. But subtle as a request for excellence without ever suggesting violence. Just gut wrenching fear of getting the wrong attention.

    He came to my senior recital and was a judge. After 4 years I was able to perform without once thinking of him. He told me afterwards "I got to the point where I stopped waiting for you to make a mistake." That was his highest form of compliment. I was close to being perfect. As a freshman I had to audition for him and shook so bad I almost changed majors. I still hate that MF'er but he helped me know myself and after getting my degree I decided never to be a band director even thought that was the intent of my degree in Music Ed. College is for growing up. I went back later for a degree that was for making money and a life of continuous education: Computer Engineering.

    The director of Whiplash has a fixation on jazz as the pinnacle of human existence... the dedicated protagonist that must pursue art at all costs. His follow up movie was "La La Land" with the cocktail lounge pianist and the sadistic club owner that wanted him to play for the customers and stop playing moody non-commercial jazz. Slightly better use of jazz as a metaphor since this young director has to navigate getting movies made in the Hollywood system and got to make more movies because they made money.

    I wonder what he's working on... maybe a Horror Flick where a bass player finds his upright bass is inhabited by a little asian girl that sings as he plays and makes his bass sound out of tune.

    @LinearLineman said:
    If so, can you enlighten me? Frankly, apart from a good performance by J.K. Simmons, the genial Allstate man gone mad, I didn’t know what to make of it. It certainly wasn’t about jazz… but maybe I’m missing something.

    You’ve got to check out Oz.
    Simmons played a white supremacist rapist and murderer.
    His Whiplash character is a pussycat in comparison.

  • Everything I felt about this movie has already been expressed above (I like it a lot), so the only thing I have to add is that it was originally a short, which won a bunch of prizes, so they expanded it into a feature. For me that was noticeable, in that it was a little light in places where you could see the stretching, but I still liked it a lot.

  • For me the very idea of a music competition is absurd. Ugly film about ugly people. Simmons was great, however. I now find it hard to watch him in other roles.

  • @markk said:
    For me the very idea of a music competition is absurd. Ugly film about ugly people. Simmons was great, however. I now find it hard to watch him in other roles.

    I had the same react to Robert Deniro after "Taxi Driver". Scorcese used him as the romantic lead in "New York, New York" (which gave us that song) and I was sure he was going to kill Liza Minelli. Then he shows up in "Meet the Fockers" where his dark soul helped make the movie work as a comedy.

  • @McD said:

    @markk said:
    For me the very idea of a music competition is absurd. Ugly film about ugly people. Simmons was great, however. I now find it hard to watch him in other roles.

    I had the same react to Robert Deniro after "Taxi Driver". Scorcese used him as the romantic lead in "New York, New York" (which gave us that song) and I was sure he was going to kill Liza Minelli. Then he shows up in "Meet the Fockers" where his dark soul helped make the movie work as a comedy.

    You can split J.K. Simmons into two different people by watching the excellent Series "Counterpart".

  • @LinearLineman said:

    This movie tho… A music teacher slapping a student across the face multiple times…. Wellll.

    That happens in the Indian tradition. I saw a video of Sayeeduddin Dagar, the sweetest little old dude, turn around and slap his son’s face during a concert when the kid (late 20s) got maybe ten cents out of tune.

  • edited April 15

    I haven't. But want to in the nearest future. I rewatched Lost Highway recently. Fantastic sounds!I couldn't find the movie first on any streaming service i am subscribed for so had to use one of the dodgy streaming sites. Decided to install private access on my firestick like it is written here and now the streaming itself is much easier.

  • edited April 10

    I have avoided this movie for many reasons. I see the trailer and immediately thought "This is just ridiculous!"

    I don't believe in abuse as a motivational tool - resentment and anger never brings out the best in people in my experience. It may bring short term gains but they don't last, and they certainly don't encourage artistry, which in my mind is essential in most things, especially music and ESPECIALLY jazz. I could never be in the military - I admire those who can as it is anathema to me.

    The other bit is the beatings - that's just silly. JK Simmons is an excellent actor and I'm sure he was spectacular in the role, but this isn't the kind of musician-coming-of-age movie I want to watch.

  • @McD said:

    @McD said:

    @markk said:
    For me the very idea of a music competition is absurd. Ugly film about ugly people. Simmons was great, however. I now find it hard to watch him in other roles.

    I had the same react to Robert Deniro after "Taxi Driver". Scorcese used him as the romantic lead in "New York, New York" (which gave us that song) and I was sure he was going to kill Liza Minelli. Then he shows up in "Meet the Fockers" where his dark soul helped make the movie work as a comedy.

    You can split J.K. Simmons into two different people by watching the excellent Series "Counterpart".

    Now that was an interesting series.

  • @NeuM said:

    @McD said:
    You can split J.K. Simmons into two different people by watching the excellent Series "Counterpart".

    Now that was an interesting series.

    Great concept movie, right? J.K. hits it out of the part. Almost as good as what Tatiana Maslany pulled off in "Orphan Black".

  • @McD said:

    @NeuM said:

    @McD said:
    You can split J.K. Simmons into two different people by watching the excellent Series "Counterpart".

    Now that was an interesting series.

    Great concept movie, right? J.K. hits it out of the part. Almost as good as what Tatiana Maslany pulled off in "Orphan Black".

    I liked Counterpart more. JK Simmons is the consummate pro actor.

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