Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Whiplash" (2014)

I wanted to like "Whiplash" a lot, really I did, and before I go any further I wish to laud all the performances, Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons (who deserves the Oscar nomination in every way) even down to Melissa Benoist in the thankless role of the hapless girlfriend. They all done good believe me. But... I had one of those revelatory movie experiences halfway through, the thought more or less slammed into me, to the effect "J.K. Simmons is torturing poor Miles Teller to make him into a kind of Suffering Jazz Drummer Messiah...All so the poor schnook can tour the USA playing thirty one seat venues in front of an aging and shrinking audience that simply hasn't figured out how to steal his music on line for free". If Simmons REALLY wanted to torture the kid he should have made it clear that his youthful passion for Jazz will inevitably into a quaint time consuming second job that will literally drain the joy from his life. And with that, the Movie Imploded Completely. It was supremely well acted, but the premise was almost hilariously flawed from the git-go. And anyway what is our cultural obsession with torment as the only path to excellence? The Ancient Greeks held that happiness was a function of the full use of one's powers along lines of excellence, here in the USA we have come to believe that excellence is impossible without a long tortured apprenticeship full of physical and psychological agony. Thats why these "drill instructor" characters (J.K. Simmons, R. Lee Ermey etc etc) never get second guessed in almost any drama or comedy...ever notice that? Its a sign of insecurity....just sayin'.