After seeing "Birdman", I was really leery of any movie that got such universal acclaim. So along comes "Whiplash", and at the end of the movie, I was so happy (and relieved) that once again, my reviews were (mostly) in line with critics, I had to see it twice just to make sure that I wasn't imagining how good it was the first time. Yup-fantastic movie.
Yes, I am a drummer and this is about a jazz drummer, but this movie reminds me of "Rush"-you don't need to know anything about Formula 1 racing to fully appreciate how amazing "Rush" was. Same here-this could have been the story about any musician trying to become a legend. Or a sports movie. Being about drums makes it special for me, but I took my parents to see it a second time and even they were amazed. And blown away.
J.K.Simmons and Miles Teller are scary to watch. The beauty of a small(er) budget movie is that they usually feature actors that aren't in the public eye as much as a star, so you never feel that they are acting. I had never seen Miles Teller before, so I assumed he was a drummer that was acting for the movie. Turns out he has been in other movies and had to learn how to play jazz drums, which is arguably the hardest instrument to fake. I recognized J.K. Simmons from Spider-Man movies and also his Farmers Insurance commercials.
By now, everyone knows the plot: Teller plays a 19-year old jazz drummer trying to make the team, so to speak. Simmons is the stern taskmaster, but that's about all the familiarity you will find in this movie. There are several twists, and the ending is spectacular. Oddly enough, this movie will probably not be a hit at the box office because it is TOO good, if that makes any sense. It looks familiar, but it is unlike anything I have ever seen. Oddly enough, I felt the same way about Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in "Edge of Tomorrow", where I didn't want to see it because it felt too familiar, only to be surprised that it turned out to be one of the best movies I have seen in years. "Whiplash" is intense-I was anxious to see how it turned out the SECOND time I saw it. And I had seen it the first time less than 36 hours earlier.
I give Whiplash the highest score ever awarded: 97 out of 100 points. In fact, I don't even know why it shouldn't get 100 points, so I now give it 100 points. It's that good. Just try to find a flaw-I dare you.