Whiplash: A Movie Review with Adam

Whiplash: A Movie Review with Adam

Cinema, such a sought after form of art, is slowly dying. Almost as if it got shot in the stomach and bleeds out a little faster, leaving a bigger blood trail every year. With film becoming more and more diluted with big tacky narratives, over down to earth beautiful sentiments. New movies focus the most on big payoffs, the next big blockbuster of the year, or at least that release season. These types of films, although fun, have become a huge trend in filmmaking in the last decade, making it hard to consume new fulfilling films as studios are greenlighting fewer and fewer of them. When I think about an all around great movie, only a handful of films come to mind. It’s rare that I recommend a superhero movie/blockbuster over a work of art. Whiplash is about a 19 year old drummer, Andrew Neiman who attends Shaffer Music school. He aspires to be like his hero Buddy Rich by working the hardest and beating out everyone else in his class, but before he can climb the ranks he must first impress the cutthroat head conductor, Terence Fletcher, who will squeeze every last drop of passion out of Neiman until perfection is presented.

The movie “Whiplash,” does in fact fit into the niche spot of masterpiece for a couple of reasons. Number one is cinematography. Even if you’re not interested in Jazz or live playing/practices, the shots they use to showcase the absolute blood, sweat, and tears our protagonist is devoting to his passion are gorgeous, and captivating. I can’t talk up these slow zoom shots, blurs, focus shots, etc. enough. Honestly, if you get nothing else out of this movie it will be the cinematography. The average viewer will be taken by the way these shots create ambience and push the atmosphere and overall tone of the story.

Secondly is the grounded story. There’s not some otherworldly antagonist, the protagonist is the antagonist. And that’s what’s so great, as a lot of times you get in your own way. A lot of what the movie does is take realistic elements, stuff that happens with everyone, it preys on your emotions and uses your general experience in feeling for the characters. The way they show the emotional turmoil in our main character in how he deals with his conductor is insane. He gets emotionally and sometimes physically abused throughout every session, encouraged to quit and all the time worrying he won’t have a spot in the band anymore. Still he perseveres. The relationship with our protagonist and supporting actor is the movie, showcasing the ups and downs of being in a professional jazz band full of the best players alive.
Thirdly, the way they tell the story from beginning to end is perfect. They don’t leave room for questions of a sequel, they don’t even really rap it up verbally. In fact for a lot of the movie they focus on tone and the overall vibe of the scene, rather than dialogue. Which in my opinion speaks volumes in comparison. Rather than telling the viewer like many movies, it shows us. And that’s cinema baby, gorgeous shots, realistic characters and plots, as well as creative capture of human emotion.

Because of my interest and perspectives on films, I love hearing other people’s views and discovering how much they align or differ with my own, especially on such films I think deserve to be seen. And as such will be conducting interviews with my peers on different forms of media I discuss. With that said, I interviewed my good friend Michael Montano-Diaz to gather his input. This is what I came up with. Enjoy.

Q1: What comes to mind when you think of Whiplash?
A1: For me, it’s one of the first pieces of jazz media that I ever really got into and made me consider and maybe one of the first things that got me into jazz. Also, I think definitely of abuse and trauma because of the content and relationship between Neiman and Fletcher.

Q2: Did you like Whiplash?

A2: I enjoyed it a lot. The first time I watched it I missed a couple key things, but I still overall enjoyed it, especially the ending even though it starts off a little slow but then picks up in my opinion. But I did still enjoy it, it was a good story in my opinion.

Q3: How is it different from other movies you’ve seen? Maybe compared to other musically based narratives?

A3: Umm, I haven’t many other music movies, but the way it’s different from a lot of other movies I’ve seen, for one thing is the cinematography is really unique and different, especially relating to the drumming sections and when Neiman’s practicing playing on his kit and the angles plus atmosphere that the camera captures. You can really see how stressed and angry he is, which is acting too, but the cinematography really pulls it together. Another thing that really separates it from other movies is the coloring, when they’re in the jazz room and it’s all orange, like the lighting really brings a lot of orange tones and dark ambience kind of makes you feel like you’re trapped in the room with Neiman, there’s no windows, no daylight, just this orange light and silence.

Q4: Being a music student yourself, how can you relate to Neiman?

A4: I can definitely relate to Neiman’s obsession with music, he puts everything he has into perfecting and improving his drumming to a point where it starts to tear all of his relationships apart, I don’t exactly plan on sacrificing everything for music but sacrifice is most definitely apart of being a musician who wants nothing but to spend there life doing what they love

Q5: Reviewing all your answers, would you recommend Whiplash to others?

A5: Oh of course! I mean especially if you’re into music, if you’re into jazz already you’ll definitely enjoy the movie. There’s some things it gets wrong, but it’s to be expected, to make it interesting, you know it has to make some compromise. So if you are someone who likes music, or jazz going into watching this movie just know beforehand there are going to be some inaccuracies for sure but overall give you a good story, and a good representation of power dynamic and abusive relationships. And if you’re just an average viewer you can get about the same out of it. No matter who goes into watching it regardless of prior music knowledge or something crazy like a degree in jazz theory, you can get something out of this movie because what it’s really about is relationships especially between people in positions of power like the band director and personal relationships with people like Neiman’s girlfriend. So there’s something for everyone and the music really adds a lot to it as well.