I imagine people watching a suspenseful horror movie feel the same way I did when watching J.K Simmons in Whiplash, he’s brilliantly terrifying in the best way. A first-year music student (Miles Teller) wins a seat behind the drums in a jazz band led by a teacher (J.K. Simmons) who uses fear and intimidation to push his students to perfection. Fear and intimidation are putting it mildly; the scenes with his students are a combination of exhilarating, terrifying and a bit funny. And by the end of it when you think he’s softened just a hair, he strikes back in the most honest, awesome and cruel ways. It’s a fascinating character to watch.
The movie revolves around Miles Teller and his wanting to be one of the greats, and based off of that he’s naïve, self-centered and a bit of a dick at times. But the kind of dick that you end up wanting to be great, it would be impossible to make this movie interesting if Simmons was just yelling at this quiet kid who was simply nice for nice sake, that’s why he needs to be a bit of an egomaniac on the inside. He throws family and friends under the bus simply because he wants to be the best, and while that’s a shitty thing to say at the dinner table it’s something you respect when you see him bleeding all over his drum kit.
The direction (Damien Chazelle) is fast quick and clean cut I have only one instance when it was a bit obvious, on a date showing that they are getting along, but that’s the nit pickiest of nitpicks, it also makes drumming feel like its life or death at ever instance, one remarkably great moment takes place between three characters drumming to make the starting core of the bad, and they are basically dying for the chance, over and over again they try, and the way the scene is cut and paced is truly exciting and painful.
I could not recommend it more, this movie is up there with “Birdman” and “The Imitation Game” as my favorites of the year, even though J.K Simmons is great in everything he does he’s truly awe inspiring in this role that many people disagree with now days, he’s trying to make the best out of someone in the most horrific and tortured way possible, a trend that almost no teacher does today, and the end speaks for itself in terms of buildup.