Whiplash tells the familiar story of a clever student and the hard as nails teacher who pushes him beyond his limits to greatness. In this case, our hero is a young drummer who dreams of being the next Buddy Rich. And no, the film isn’t set in 1960. I’m sure other people have played the drums since then, but I’ll be honest and say outside of Ringo Starr, no names come to mind.
J.K. Simmons does a brilliant job as the foul mouthed, spirit crushing, over bearing, uber bastard who rules his tiny little jazz band with an iron fist. He abuses the kids both verbally and physically. He pits them against each other when they don’t meet his standard of perfection. He kicks people out of the band because they are too fat or too slow or because they misplace their music. But like Don Rickles, he also has a soft side that we see on rare occasions. He really does love his kids, even if he treats them all like shit.
Once our hero joins the cool kids in the Jazz Band, he learns that he has to keep trying harder all the time to keep his spot as the Core Team Drummer. He dreams of being the next great jazz drummer and his teacher dreams of finding the next great jazz musician. In the background is Paul Reiser, a father who failed at being a writer who sees nothing but disappointment in store for his son. There are a few other minor story lines, but in the end, it’s all about the drums.Whiplash was a good movie and well worth watching. Lots of tension and nice visuals. Then there’s the music. Lots of great jazz riffs and drum solos and occasional soulful bits that help to set the mood. I was never a huge fan of Buddy Rich or Max Roach or drummers in general, but the last few solos in Whiplash are pretty damned impressive.