I once took up percussion at school, because I wanted to be just like Lindy Morrison from the Go-Betweens, who I had spotted being all cool on late-night music video shows. I was terrible, not just because I am generally uncoordinated, but because I just didn’t have the drive to spent more than an hour or two a week practicing. My teacher despaired of me, and eventually gently suggested I give the classes up. I don’t think teaching me was what he was thinking of when he applied to teach at an all-girls high school.
Would it all have been better if I had had a teacher like Terrence Fletcher in Whiplash? Nope. Silly rhetorical question. Fletcher is terrifying. But JK Simmons manages to finely balance the human and the inhuman in his characterisation of Fletcher, and the close ups of his face during his several monologues are worth the price of the cinema ticket alone. Miles Teller’s Andrew is also terrific as Fletcher’s student. To me, some of the best scenes were when he was trying to justify himself to his family, who place the masculine sport above the feminine music, and who you feel that even if Andrew won a Grammy, they’d not give a toss. And the end! The end of this film! It’s almost too hard to bear, I had my hands clenched willing Andrew on. Make sure you get a hug from someone afterwards, aftercare after releasing all that adrenaline is important, you know.
So yeah, I loved this. And who didn’t leave this movie and download all the Charlie Parker on Spotify?