Most people are probably not really aware of it, but “Whiplash” (2014) actually lead to some extremely heated discussions around the great big void that is the Internet. I liked the film, simply because Miles Teller delivered a stellar performance. And I’m not saying that as a drummer. But music educators have, understandably, been up in arms about the film and so have jazz aficionados. Both camps disliked – and that is putting it mildly – the portrayal of the learning experience as depicted in this film, afraid that both their work and their music was being portrayed in a totally distorted fashion.

I did not understand the film to be a portrayal of reality in any sense of the word, but as one trying to depict a teacher-student relationship which has gone totally off the rails. In that sense, the film is frighteningly fascinating.

Still, I had my problems with J. K. Simmons’ portrayal of a teacher supposedly motivated by bringing out the best in his students. His portrayal just did not ring true in some scenes because it just went (at least) one step too far. That part just did not work for me (as a teacher). Nevertheless, without doubt, also Simmons made this film shine.

If you haven’t seen the film yet, please do. The editing (!) of the film and the camera work are just spectacular and many moments pay off big time. One of the very few gems I have watched these past 12 months or so. Highly recommended!

Addendum: Because someone contacted me 60 seconds after this post was published, two random links:

(01) Richard Brody: “Getting Jazz Right in the Movies” (newyorker.com)
(02) Sean J. O’Connell: “Drummer Peter Erskine on Jazz Flick ‘Whiplash” (kcet.org)

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

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