From my 1.17.14 review: “Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics, 10.14) is a raging two-hander about a gifted drummer named Andrew (Miles Teller). Enrolled at an elite Manhattan music school and determined to be not just proficient or admired but Buddy Rich-great, Andrew is a Bunsen burner. We can see from the get-go he’s going to be increasingly possessed and manic and single-minded about the skins. (All great musicians are like this to varying degrees.) On top of which he really doesn’t want to be like his kindly, failed-writer dad (Paul Reiser), and he can’t find peace with a pretty girl (Melissa Benoist) because she isn’t as consumed as he is — too uncertain and unexceptional.
“That’s combustible enough, but Chazelle turns it up with the villain/angel of the piece — a snarling, egg-bald, half-mad music instructor named Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). This guy is definitely not sane and yet he knows what it takes to be great. Andrew recognizes this kindred (if dominating) spirit and wham…we’re off to the races. You know these guys are going to butt heads, and that a lot of emotional-psychological blood will be spilt (along with the actual stuff). This is the super-demanding realm of classic jazz. Everyone listening to Rich and Charlie Parker and other legends of that ilk. Playing the hell out of ‘Whiplash’ and ‘Cherokee’ and dreading Fletcher’s wrath. No pikers, whiners or jerkoffs.”