Friday, June 19, 2015

So, you do know the difference?

As much as I tend to avoid conflict in my life, it's always nice to have the occasional really big fight. I don't mean a physical altercation, or even a screaming match, but just that heated discussion where all the bullshit is cast aside and all parties involved unleash Hell. All those seemingly minor things that are usually swallowed (figuratively, perv, figuratively) are regurgitated directly into the face of the person standing in front of you. It's awful, but at the same time...exhilarating.

My wife and I recently had such a, um, conversation, and among the tidbits I learned about myself, there was one that burned just a little bit more than the others. She said that I exist without any sense of urgency. That I'm slow. This is totally a fair point, and stepping back (after insisting I wasn't for awhile, naturally) and looking at it, I guess I'm on board with this theory. But what if I'm going at normal speed? What if she's fast? It begs the question:

Can two people have a successful partnership, if they don't operate at the same rhythm?

Whiplash may ask that question, but it certainly doesn't answer it, not at all, as it honestly doesn't give a f--k about you and your feelings. In fact, in the world of competitive jazz (feels like an oxymoron, no?), as presented here, there isn't room for humanity, let alone basic emotions. It's basically keep up or f--k off.

As you surely already know, the highlight of Whiplash is J.K. Simmons' performance as Fletcher, an instructor with the subtlety and understanding of a f--king tommy gun. Fletcher is a ruthless instructor, concerned with nothing except getting the best out of his students. And if they can't cut it - f--k 'em. It's just that simple.

Navigating this human minefield is Andrew (an exquisitely haunting Miles Teller), a new student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory. Andrew has dreams of becoming a great jazz drummer, and when he's selected/challenged by Fletcher, he essentially loses his mind to make the grade. I was the kind of student that got pissed when I felt like my personal life was being taken over by school (it's so unfair! *sadface*). Andrew has a simple solution: f--k having a personal life. 

As one of the more tense films I've seen in recent memory, I found Whiplash to be an endlessly entertaining ride. We've all had someone in our life that pushed our buttons, but Simmons forgoes pushing, and just f--king destroys them. With his teeth. It's such an electric performance, and embodies the film's themes perfectly. What is the cost of being great? Should I hug you until you do better, or just keep punching you in the face?

Speaking of things that should be punched in the face, here are the Yays and Boos for Whiplash. We've always wanted to play the drums, we've just never had a drum set. Or any discernible musical ability.

Simmons has kind of made a living yelling at bumbling teenagers.
Ha. That makes two of us.
  • So...that was a pretty intense introduction, huh?
  • Paul Reiser, ladies and gentlemen. Fantastic!
  • Okay, a pretty girl working at the concession stand of a movie theater? In high school this officially would have been the death of me. She would have meant Please go away...
  • Simmons is jacked. Clearly, I've got to start waving my hands around more. 
  • I'm sure you smarter people know for sure, but did you ever get the feeling that Simmons was just riffing half the time? Either way, scripted or not, I loved how awful just about every single thing he said turned out to be (especially the rushing v. dragging scene...which was like eating the most delicious shards of broken glass).
  • When Andrew decided to go ALL IN, it's so, intense, I almost couldn't take it. It's like a Rocky training montage with drum sticks.
  • I still go to the movies with my dad. Something I hope my son says one day.
  • As totally f--king crazy as Fletcher is, there's something very worthwhile to his views on encouraging/discouraging greatness. I'm 900 times less intense than this guy, but I get it. And I kind of love it.
  • There was this moment where, had I been able to, I would have screamed F-------kkkkkkk like William Wallace screamed freeeeeeeedom in Braveheart. I won't spoil it, but it would have happened after Fletcher says five little words.
  • And finally, the ending. I felt like I had taken some sort of psychological exam and passed by virtue of not dying. But those final five minutes? Well...that was probably the most epic one of those ever. And then it just ends. Done.
What is that thing their faces are doing?
I'm pretty sure that's not allowed at Shaffer.
  • Oversleeping. That complete and utter sense of panic was so intense I almost followed suit and ran out of my f--king house. But waking up three minutes late is probably better than showing up three hours early.
  • That dude wasn't even out of tune! What kind of Jedi mind-shit is this?
  • Have you ever been talking to someone, and just known, like with 100% certainty, not only are they not listening, but they just don't give a f--k. This is what it's like talking to Fletcher. Yeah, your mom left, great stuff. So, no musicians in the family, huh?
  • Outside of the vending machine falling exclusively on your testicles, that was probably the worst thing that could ever happen from getting a Pepsi. They were just right here!
  • Oh, um...that dinner table conversation? I'd say it was heartless and misguided...
  • ...but that would likely be a better description for the ol' preemptive dumping. That shit was cold. But she got him back, didn't she? Yeah, totally. Let me ask my BOYFRIEND if he wants to go.
  • The one time that we get to see Fletcher as an actual person? Absolute bullshit.
  • And finally, thanks Whiplash for essentially being a horror movie. I thought I was getting a character study and tense drama, not a mindf--k and a bloodbath. 
I'm not sure when my wife and I sat down for this one, whether it was pre-The Talk or post, but whenever it was, she totally fell asleep. Me? I never do that. But would I ever bring that up in a heated discussion? Of course not.

We just march to the beat of a different drummer, you know?

It's nothing to get upset about.


  1. Watching this over the weekend. I'll be back to read this after that.

  2. I really liked that movie, but yeah it was so intense it could almost make you dizzy. Still I preferred Norton in Birdman to Simmons here

    1. I can only imagine how good Norton is, if you liked his performance more than Simmons'. I have to see that movie...I have no idea what has taken me so long.

      Dizzy is the perfect word.

  3. My God, I love this movie so much. I think it has the best ending to a film I've ever seen. Plus I love how Fletcher was sweetly talking to that little girl, then walks into his classroom and is like "wake up, cocksuckers!" Classy.

    1. Okay, I'm with you, but can you imagine being in the audience? You could just stand up and give everyone in the room your best what the f--k face and no one would flinch. It was so insane!

      Oh, shit...I totally forgot about that. I didn't know how were supposed to take his talk with the girl? Total bullshit, right?

  4. I really enjoyed this film (right word?) but I found it so one note...there wasn't any was just one note played extremely loud.

    1. Hahaha. I really like that, Fisti. It's totally fair, too.

      I guess I just liked that note more than you did.

  5. I watched and reviewed this movie a while back, and I loved it. I'm one of those easygoing, nurturing kinds of teachers, so Fletcher is like the anti-me. I freaking LOVED him for it. :-)

    "We've all had someone in our life that pushed our buttons, but Simmons forgoes pushing, and just f--king destroys them. With his teeth." That bit is a pure delight to read. It's a beautiful review all the way around.

    1. and me both. Though...not so much on the 'nuturing' side. Easy going? Check. And yes, I love anybody that's a hardcore dick to kids. That just ain't me...but it's sooo fun to watch (and in my case...occasionally be around).

      Thanks as always.

      Oh, and trust me, I have commented on your site from my phone about a half-dozen times...and I swear the internet just gobbles them up. It's infuriating, but be assured I always appreciate the linkage. ALWAYS.

  6. Great review! This was definitely my #1 film of this year, and I'm so glad JK Simmons won the Oscar...I was totally rooting for him :)

    1. Thanks! I really, really enjoyed it and am with you in any adoration thrown toward Simmons. Sati mentioned Edward Norton in Birdman being better...and if that's even remotely possible, then I need to see that movie ASAP!

      I was rooting for him without having seen it. The guy is just so good, you know?

  7. Other than Boyhood, this is one of the only BP noms I haven't seen that I really want to get around to sometime. I've heard such great things about it, but I can tell that it's not something I should watch with my daughter around, although it's also one of those where we would put it on and she would end up leaving the room anyway. - Bubbawheat

    1. I don't know how old your daughter is, but I'm definitely in the camp of 'wait til she's gone' to fire up this flick. It's very good, very tightly-paced and has two completely electric performances, but it sure ain't for the younger ones. Not even close.

      I haven't seen Boyhood...or just about any of the other nominees, but I was happy to not be let down...if that makes sense.