Tuesday, December 09, 2014
J.K. Simmons, a gifted comic actor most of the time, plays a terrifying but absolutely riveting music teacher in WHIPLASH, easily one of the best movies of the year. It’s FAME meets THE GREAT SANTANI with a little ROCKY, HOOSIERS, and FULL METAL JACKET thrown in for spice. Or THE BLACK SWAN without any eating disorders. The music is heart-pounding and thrilling. Ladies and gentleman, the beat REALLY goes on. And yes, it’s a movie about jazz music but there’s more blood than in JAWS.
I could really relate because that's my teaching style at USC.
Simmons has played bad-ass before -- anyone who’s seen him in OZ knows not to say anything that might hurt his feelings. But here he takes “tough love teacher” to a whole ‘nother place – Guantanamo I think. Oscar nomination? A lock.
Paul Reiser played Teller’s father and didn’t talk incessantly so it was his best performance since DINER.
In a movie that celebrates extraordinary talent, Damien Chazelle proves to be just that as both a writer and director. While Hollywood is fawning all over the Michael Bay’s of the world, people like Chazelle is who they should really be going after. It’s a shame to think that for a movie this good to get any distribution it has to be made independently and win a bunch of awards at film festivals. And then it gets booked into art houses. I wonder how many of you are in small towns where this movie isn’t even playing while DUMBER AND DUMBER TO is showing on fifteen screens.
If you get a chance, see WHIPLASH. Oh, and if you play an instrument – practice.
My Kindle version of THE ME GENERATION... BY ME (GROWING UP IN THE '60S) remains on sale for $.99, which is way less than a dollar. If you don't want to relive your youth then at least relive mine. Here's where you go. Thanks.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM