"A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential" -IMDb

As a viola student with a pretty gosh darn good teacher and a school with a pretty gosh darn exceptional music program, I have given some thought to attending a conservatory for higher education. I believe that I will not take that path, and Whiplash cemented that notion in my head for all the right reasons.

First of all, let me announce that the insults in this movie are absolutely stellar. On that note, do not watch this with your mother if she does not have the mouth of a truck-driving sailor who has spend several decades in prison. It’s phenomenal. J.K. Simmons is a favorite to win in his Oscars categories, and these beautifully crafted stingers serve their purpose falling from his mouth. Part of me will probably always consider him Terrence Fletcher, the ruthless leader of the elite jazz group at the country’s top conservatory. As slapstick-hilarious as the sharp character’s lines might be, they leave a mark in the viewer’s mind. At least one of his fits of abusive language will ignite a spark, big or small, in their memories. He is the adult version of every reckless childhood bully. Don’t get me wrong, Fletcher is driven by great morals that he clearly outlines, but he takes them to insane levels. The ideology might not seem all that great if you haven’t taken part in competitive performance as either a solo instrumentalist or vocalist, or as a part of a wind, string, or choral ensemble. If you have, then you probably do not find his mantras by themselves all that insane.

Miles Teller as Andrew Neiman and J.K. Simmons as Terrence Fletcher

Miles Teller plays a somewhat simple character  named Andrew who gets caught in a complicated situation. All he wants is to play the damn drums in this elite jazz studio band at the best conservatory in New York City. And to be considered among the greatest drummers of all time. He is awkward, but competitive, talented, and driven by this blind ambition that, to the horror of the audience, slowly eats away at his mind and his body. Andrew makes jaw-dropping decisions that, as both a musician and a person, made me think “gosh, I would never do that… would I?” I was left uncomfortable, ultimately drawing the half-conclusion that I would probably do exactly as Andrew does, if I were given his opportunities and under the same pressure. It was marvelously horrific in the best way. At first glance, the ideas presented in the movie are simple: don’t let your goals ruin your happiness. But what if your goals are your idea of joy? Where is the line? What about the balance between talent and modesty? Just because I worked harder than the predetermined best, does it mean that I should be ranked higher than them?

R.I.P this guy.

Of course, there is an abusive, overbearing “antagonist” in the picture that skews everything out of proportion. Why is the a-word in quotations? Thank you for asking. Technically, he was the villain, since all he does the whole time is go against Andrew, the obvious protagonist. Not complicated. But for some reason, you are drawn in to him, and while he is abuser, he is also- dare I say it-  slightly likable?. If you have not seen this film yet, you are probably alarmed, but it is true. Fletcher goes out of his way to deceive and impose punishment when the victim is innocent. He is merciless with his endlessly talented studio band, and no amount of greatness is ever satisfying enough. He wrecks havoc in each musician’s confidence. Yet, there is something admirable about him, beneath his viciousness, and even as he ruins lives and shows little to no remorse, I was kind of rooting for him. Where does all this come from? Well, Fletcher honestly never possessed many respectable qualities, which is no secret. But you still like him because of how much Andrew looks up to and reveres him. Teller is so convincing that you are left with no choice but to admire Fletcher for his status and intense dedication and the persona that is built up around him. The teacher is both a hero and a villain. In my opinion, that is what made the movie so outstanding.
Actually a thriller that just happens to be dripping with drama, Whiplash will keep you on your toes. Remember the name Damien Chazelle, who is the thirty-year-old director of this film. He is from Providence, Rhode Island, and attended Harvard University. (A fellow New England person making it big, to me, is like having a cousin do well. It’s like family pride in a sense). Maybe Chazelle has only directed one movie prior to this one, but that is not a problem. If there are any doubts, maybe the fact that Whiplash is nominated for FIVE Academy Awards will change those. No big deal. Just wait, it will be one of the big winners this year because it is downright incredible. OH YEAH, THE MUSIC WAS TOP-NOTCH TOO (SURPRISE, SURPRISE). Chazelle is a talented jazz drummer who is actually playing in some of the close-ups.
Seriously, watch this. If you are a music student, it will change your life. Even if you are not a big music or jazz fan, you will be hooked within five minutes. Buckle in and get ready to get your mind tossed around.

So much conflict. So much sacrifice.

Also, make sure that you are available to watch the whole thing at once if you’re not at the theater (chances are, you will not be at a theater since it was limited release). And do not miss the end, no matter what. It was one of the best endings I have ever witnessed.

stay lovely, reader



The Grand Budapest Hotel

I am by no means a film expert, but this little (spoiler-free, rest assured!) segment is something I’d like to keep up as a monthly ritual.

This month’s must-see-movie for me was the Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by none other than The Great Wes Anderson. I talk about him quite a bit. I would say that I’m pretty well-versed in Mr. Anderson’s masterpieces… I am too embarrassed to admit the precise number of times that I have sat through the Life Aquatic, but I will let you know that I have spent plenty of hours reliving that emotional rollercoaster.

Wes Anderson doing his thing on set

Anyway, this guy knocked my socks off yet again when I viewed Budapest for the first time. And the second time. And my socks will probably be blown off yet again when I inevitably press play for a third time. Essentially, this is that one really special fairytale book or movie that you obsessed and fantasized over as a little kid, updated to fascinate a more matured audience. It’s a pastel-colored, OCD-soothing dream, and not a daydream. It’s a full-on full-color cozy winter night dream, where the most wonderful, absurd adventures unfold right before your eyes. It’s one that you desire so badly to recount to your closest friends, except whatever words you conjure up to describe it will hardly do it justice. This movie is just as aesthetic-y as all of Anderson’s other work, but it stands in a league of its own, just as the others do. One minute, you will be left in awe of the odd humor and charm on display, and the next, your mind is whirring, trying to decipher what comes next in the cascade of plot-twists. It’s a classic adventure movie with a very pretty makeover. Among the glitz and glamor, there is a sense of meaningfulness that any viewer can identify with. I have high hopes for this one at the Oscars for that reason. Check out them nominations though!

Attention to detail is a big thing in this movie

Fiennes is spectacular, along with Revolori as his right-hand man. They hold their ground amid the whirlwind of Anderson’s unique cabinet of “regulars” and the surprising all-star supporting cast. Adrien Brody, Jason Sschwartzman, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, and Owen Wilson are some of the expected key players (NO PUN INTENDED WOW), and then Harvey Keitel shows up and you’re just thinking… can this movie get any more insane? And then it does get way more insane.

Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave and Tony Revolori as Zero

The music is downright heavenly, heavily influenced by Russian folk to compliment the Eastern-European mountain setting. Keep an eye out for Alexandre Desplat’s playful, animated score at the Grammy Awards on Sunday!

I am still thinking about this movie constantly, even though I saw it at Christmastime. Basically, Budapest was exactly what the poster looks like. Intriguing, intricate, bright and ultimately iconic.

LOOK AT ALL THOSE BOXES!! Oh, and Saoirse Ronan…

Stay lovely, Readers!