Swen’s N’ Dobs // The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

This week we looked to our inner musicians and watched Whiplash. Whiplash, a film by Damien Chazelle, stars Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now, Divergent, and the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot) and J.K. Simmons (Juno; I Love You, Man) as an aspiring drummer and brutal conductor, respectively. At the heart of the story is Simmons’ goal to do whatever it takes to create historically great musicians; often resorting to abuse, both physical and emotional.


Throughout Whiplash, I bit my nails, caught my breath and tightened my shoulders with anxiety. The film totally stressed me out, not from poor direction or wince-worthy dialogue, but from its complete rendering of tone. Whiplash becomes as dark as Black Swan and more thrilling than Gone Girl in half the time and with only a fifth of their violence. From the opening drum beats, Whiplash hurtles towards its inevitable yet unpredictable ending. We witness Andrew Nieman’s unravelling with frustration and captivation: his bloody hands, sweat-drenched hair, the devolution of all his relationships. The chemistry between Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons is superb, both actors stretching their performances to the level of brilliance their characters crave. Fletcher (Simmons) is larger than life. Volatile, abusive and charismatic, he carries the film with the verve of a tyrant you hate but can’t help following. And of course, a movie about the best jazz musicians wouldn’t be complete without a phenomenal soundtrack. Whiplash is thought-provoking, heartbreaking and triumphant, albeit painful to watch. Rent it on Amazon—it’s worth the $4.99.


I am writing this as my heart is still racing after the final scene of Whiplash. While the plot itself is not that unique, breathtaking performances by J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller truly make this a rare film. Whiplash is filled with moments of tension and fear, which constantly led to anxiety. Simmons throws himself into this role with a sort of brutality I have not seen in quite some time. As he walks into a room, everyone stands still and barely breathes because of the power he emanates. Apart from Simmons, the greatest parts of this film are the drumming scenes. Watching Miles Teller put all of his energy into his drum set is amazing to see. There is sweat pouring down his face and onto the drums themselves, while blood gushes from his injured hands. Nothing can stop him, which both pushes him further than anyone thought possible, but also causes him to act irrationally. I highly recommend that you see this film. I guarantee that your heart will be racing for the majority of the movie and that you will be elated after the closing scene.

More like Whiplash: Birdman, Black Swan