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Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

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It’s hard to imagine a teacher worse than Terrence Fletcher, the jazz band leader at fictional Shaffer Conservatory of Music in New York who J.K. Simmons plays with terrifying, unpredictable, sadistic joy. Fletcher, something like a cross between a Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket and Delores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; foul-mouthed at times, falsely sweet at others, seemingly doing it all for good reasons, but quite possibly psychopathic. The student musicians allow him to reign over them like a mad king because he gets results, brilliant performances, competition wins and eventually, jobs with major bands and orchestras. Whiplash is the story of what happens when Fletcher adds promising, young jazz drummer Andrew (the most excellent Miles Teller) to the band and decides to torture him in order to make him great. It’s a weirdly discomfiting movie, because it does a better job of justifying torture than Zero Dark Thirty does. But like that brilliant thriller, Whiplash is also an extraordinary piece of filmmaking, a taut, exciting dual film with music as the weapons instead of guns.

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Posted by on Feb 19, 2015. Filed under DVD of the Week. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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