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Whiplash - a film about drumming


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  • 7 months later...

I knew this film was highly regarded, but never bothered with it because - why would I be interested in a film about drumming and abuse?

 

It’s on iPlayer now and I gave it a go. Brilliant film, towards the end it was a similar experience to watching a horror. 

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Yeah I never liked the pay-off in the end. Seemed very contradictory to the message the movie had apparently been making up until that point.

 

In a similar ‘shit teacher’ vein, there is a movie called ‘White Water Summer’ where Kevin Bacon takes some teens on a wilderness trek and abandons them (and worse) to teach them to be self-sufficient. Watched it recently and it did make me think of Whiplash.

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This is exactly why I hate the film.

Spoiler

The abusive teacher gets to be abusive yet again and is then proven right. 

The father who should have been there to save his son gets nothing. 

 

I've had too many experiences with teachers over the years who think "tough love" is a perfect way to teach and only end up making me hate the subject i was once in love with. 

No, the teacher is an absolute monster and he should have been destroyed at the end, the kid should have gotten up and punched him in the face and said "life is more important than this shit" and walked off for a hug from his dad. 

 

The ending we got, was shit. 

 

On a personal level, obviously.

 

But hey, nearly 2 years on I can feel my pulse starting to race just thinking about this film. So on that score, its a great film. 

 

But I hate it

 

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3 hours ago, K said:

I don't think the teacher is proven right at the end. The protagonist is an amazing musician and creates something wonderful at the end, but I guess the whole point of the film is the ambiguity as to whether it was worth the abuse and the mistreatment, or whether it was even necessary.


Yeah, this. Andrew is free from Fletcher and his abusive behaviour, but still creates something amazing. Fletcher believed his way was the only possible way to achieve greatness, Andrew proves otherwise. It’s the ultimate fuck-you.

 

Also gives us a final, incredible performance for us to enjoy (I can’t imagine how shitty the end of this movie would be if Andrew punched him in the face and walked off).

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 But he doesn't deliver "despite" JK. Who looks like he's about to have an orgasm as the drum solo builds. 

It looked to me that JK absolutely reveled in the moment the kid gave in and they formed some sort of symbiotic musical nirvana. 

 

The message I got was "he's a brilliant drummer, because I made him into one. Look how brilliant he is, I made that, and this one didn't kill himself this time. Go Me" 

 

He wasn't player for himself or his father. He's still playing because he needs the affirmation from the teacher. Who was ultimately right.

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Spoiler

That's not really how the last scene plays out (though it's open to that interpretation): in the final moments, he breaks free of his teacher's control and proves that his genius, when untethered, is vastly beyond anything his teacher could come up with or imagine, and that his teacher's control had been stifling it all along. It's also a moment of revelation for the teacher who is momentarily taken aback, and then forced to cede ultimate control to the drummer, who has taken the lead from him at that point. From then, the only influence his teacher has is, amusingly enough, to act as his metronome for tempo.

 

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It's been a while since I watched it, but the way I remember interpreting that ending:

 

Spoiler

I don't think he's broken free of JK Simmons, and I don't think it was making a point about proving Fletcher's teaching methods either right or wrong. He may not have to directly put up with Fletcher's abuse any more, but he's still shown that he wants to stay in that world of musical perfectionism, regardless of whether that will ultimately make him happy. 

 

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The fact that even 12 months after I watched it, I still have an emotional attachment to the film does speak volumes. Its a visceral experience. But I can't help but feel that JK isn't shown the error of his actions. 

Or rather, I don't feel he is made to pay for his actions enough. Yes, he now finds himself where he is at the end, but in my head he is still bullying the orchestra in front of him. There's no contrition or apology.

He and the kid are in a world of their own, together. Like it was a lovers tiff easily glossed over. 

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  • 1 year later...

Finally got round to watching this on Netflix, so later to party than those thinking they were late 7 years ago! 

 

Not much to say that hasn't been said already, but I thought it was great. Wish I'd seen it in the cinema.  There's shots/scenes/sounds where I was imagining what it'd be like in that setting. 

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9 hours ago, monkeydog said:

Finally got round to watching this on Netflix, so later to party than those thinking they were late 7 years ago! 

 

Not much to say that hasn't been said already, but I thought it was great. Wish I'd seen it in the cinema.  There's shots/scenes/sounds where I was imagining what it'd be like in that setting. 


I saw it at the London Film Festival and it was an amazing screening. During the solo at the end the entire crowd was holding its breath, was absolutely brilliant. 

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On 26/09/2021 at 21:07, Sidewaysbob said:

The fact that even 12 months after I watched it, I still have an emotional attachment to the film does speak volumes. Its a visceral experience. But I can't help but feel that JK isn't shown the error of his actions. 

Or rather, I don't feel he is made to pay for his actions enough. Yes, he now finds himself where he is at the end, but in my head he is still bullying the orchestra in front of him. There's no contrition or apology.

He and the kid are in a world of their own, together. Like it was a lovers tiff easily glossed over. 


That’s kind of the point though. There is no simple commupance.

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Which suggest then, that all the abuse was worth it. 

JKs ends justify the means because the kids a great drummer and he just needed to almost die to achieve that greatness.  

That the guy who did die wasn't up to the job and failed. He was just collateral fallout to find the ONE.

 

I get that life isn't all sweetness and light and the bad guys are shades of grey and don't all wear black etc. But the teacher is a nasty abusive man who bullies and humiliates people for his own aggrandizement. I think it's straight up abuse and JK gets away with it and is shown to be right all along at the end. 

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The film isn’t condoning JK Simmons’ character’s actions, any more than Chinatown is condoning John Houston’s character. I mean, Noah Cross gets away with it and escapes any form of punishment, but the audience has seen what he’s done and knows what kind of man he is. The same thing applies to Whiplash - we’ve seen the effect that Simmons has on Miles Teller’s character. The film doesn’t need to explicitly tell us that what he did was wrong.

 

If anything, the film shows us Teller’s trauma and shows us Simmons’ justification, and asks us to consider whether it was worth it. It doesn’t explicitly tell us the answer, but I think any viewer can reach their own conclusion. 

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Indeed they can. But the end of the movie quite clearly has JK enthralled and reveling in the final drum solo. 

He is in a near state of nirvana as the solo builds and builds. I find it difficult to believe that anyone would not see that and draw the conclusion he feels he was absolutely justified in his actions, that it was all worth it. The abuse, the humiliation and the death, all ok because his methods produced the best. 

 

Whilst the kids emotional bedrock is left to stand on the side with nothing. The father who was there to pick him up and defended him is given a hug and nothing else. The kid and JK are having the revelation moment on stage.  

 

But ok, I admit this is a very personal opinion. That only I seem to have. I don't love the film, but i do have a very strong reaction to it. I really, really admire what it is. the final drum solo is a thing of visceral beauty. But it would just have preferred JK to  be shown as the abusive person he is and to face that. Not be ultimately proved right.

 

I think i wanted the kid to throw the sticks down at the end and walk away saying life was more important than JKs abuse. or something.  Maybe the kid walks back to the father and says "I'm done now, I'm better than him". some sort of pay off.  

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I wanted a quick grace note flash-forward scene of Andrew being successful but miserable. But that would’ve been a depressing ending eh. 
 

Honestly I think the director just wanted that climatic drumming scene (justifiably, it’s stunning) and didn’t think the implications through. La La Land has a similar issue. 

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3 hours ago, Sidewaysbob said:

Indeed they can. But the end of the movie quite clearly has JK enthralled and reveling in the final drum solo. 

He is in a near state of nirvana as the solo builds and builds. I find it difficult to believe that anyone would not see that and draw the conclusion he feels he was absolutely justified in his actions, that it was all worth it. The abuse, the humiliation and the death, all ok because his methods produced the best. 

 

Whilst the kids emotional bedrock is left to stand on the side with nothing. The father who was there to pick him up and defended him is given a hug and nothing else. The kid and JK are having the revelation moment on stage.  

 

But ok, I admit this is a very personal opinion. That only I seem to have. I don't love the film, but i do have a very strong reaction to it. I really, really admire what it is. the final drum solo is a thing of visceral beauty. But it would just have preferred JK to  be shown as the abusive person he is and to face that. Not be ultimately proved right.

 

I think i wanted the kid to throw the sticks down at the end and walk away saying life was more important than JKs abuse. or something.  Maybe the kid walks back to the father and says "I'm done now, I'm better than him". some sort of pay off.  

 

I don't think he's 'proved right' - it's more this is the sacrifice, cost, selfishness, suffering, and monstrosity both are willing to pay for greatness.

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6 minutes ago, Sidewaysbob said:

And the death of the other student is.... Perfectly fine because he lost his job and had to be a band leader in the city.

 

Its saying the abuse is fine if it gets the results you want. Which seems a touch worrying. 

 

"man up son, you'll thank me for this one day" 

 

Reading the interview up thread after watching, Chazelle was trying to reflect his ambiguous feelings towards a horrible teacher.  

 

While the film might have landed as 'this is fine' for you, which is fair enough, it's certainly not the intent of the director. If that makes any difference! 🙂

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Yeah, I know I have particular take on the film. It's the creative in me, 😁

 

Which isn't to say, I don't get why people really love the film. It is an extremely intense experience and the final act is immense.  As much as I hate the end, I think it is a great film. It has a premise and never shies away from it. I just wished it had a more satisfying ending.. 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Sidewaysbob said:

Indeed they can. But the end of the movie quite clearly has JK enthralled and reveling in the final drum solo. 

He is in a near state of nirvana as the solo builds and builds. I find it difficult to believe that anyone would not see that and draw the conclusion he feels he was absolutely justified in his actions, that it was all worth it. The abuse, the humiliation and the death, all ok because his methods produced the best. 

 

Whilst the kids emotional bedrock is left to stand on the side with nothing. The father who was there to pick him up and defended him is given a hug and nothing else. The kid and JK are having the revelation moment on stage.  

 

But ok, I admit this is a very personal opinion. That only I seem to have. I don't love the film, but i do have a very strong reaction to it. I really, really admire what it is. the final drum solo is a thing of visceral beauty. But it would just have preferred JK to  be shown as the abusive person he is and to face that. Not be ultimately proved right.

 

I think i wanted the kid to throw the sticks down at the end and walk away saying life was more important than JKs abuse. or something.  Maybe the kid walks back to the father and says "I'm done now, I'm better than him". some sort of pay off.  


It’s not just you, I made a post very similar when I finished watching it years ago. Can’t fault the film for raising the issue though.

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