One of the things I love the most outside of music are movies. it’s
probably fair to say I earned the title of cineaste. I’m into it to the
degree where I would be somewhat scared to know how many hours I already
spent watching movies in my life.
The movie Whiplash evidently grabbed my attention as it combines two
things I know reasonably well: drumming and movies.
After seeing some previews of it I got too scared to actually go watch it.
In a way as I was too scared to go see “dumb and dumber too”.
These movies usually make it on my “see it on a plane” list.
However, feeling somewhat irresponsible yet violently exposed to EVERYONE
around me that has seen the movie staring at me wide eyed while gripping
my upper arms, shaking me and gasping: “WhiplashOMG, did you see
So I went and I saw it and because many people asked me for my verdict
I’ll volunteer it here.
I figure this could put my reputation as a cineaste at stake more than my
reputation as a drummer. But then again, the 2 years of my life that I
might have spent in front of moving images must have been good for
So from a moviegoer standpoint I think the movie is solidly crafted. The
acting is remarkable and JK Simmons convincingly channels some old school
jazz tyrants i’ve worked with during my early career as a sideman. But the
character of the sadistic teacher probably resonates not just with me but
is one of the key ingredients why the movie speaks to a large audience.The
editing struck me as very good! Oscar for best movie? Probably not. Best
male supporting actor? Yes good chance as the character gives leeway to
the oscar-stylee “loud/great”acting. However, Edward Norton was excellent
in Birdman. On that note, PROPS to Antonio Sanchez for the Birdman score,
makes me proud!
Thanks for reading and ’till next time!
Wait! what about the drumming and all that?
I’m sure that this blog is being read by quite a few drummers and
musicians so I guess everybody know whats up.
To be fair, for a non drummer Miles Teller did a good job and doe to good
editing only a musician will be able to debunk that he’s not a drummer.
For any drummer or musician it becomes quite a stretch to to uphold the
suspension of belief necessary to enjoy a movie .
On that note: I recall seeing “interstellar” with two scientists sitting
next to me. It undoubtedly yanked me out of my movie experience when they
erupted into hysterical laughter during a scene where Matthew McConaugheys
character elaborated on Einsteins twin-parodoxon.
So in fairness to the fact that there has been some blood on my drums on
some occasions during my career, I won’t go into all the hilarious
unrealistic feats such as blood soaked drums, wind-up monkey style double
time swing, punching holes into drumheads, and profusely sweating ears.
More annoying is the misrepresentation of what a good drummer is and how
to become one. Some confusion between drummers and mixed martial art
fighters could come out of this which probably perpetuates the
dimwit/drummer notion of the general public. “It’s Rocky for drummers”
might have been the elevator pitch to hollywood producers.
I’m wondering to what extent the director Damian Chazelle is aware of this
and to which degree he had to make amends to the producers to make this
movie. It might just be that he needed to visualize the psychological
duress of Tellers character physically to create surefire emotional
involvement for the average Joe. Standard Hollywood protocol. In that
case all is forgiven.
But despite all the cheesiness, unrealistic depiction and mangled historic
facts (Jo Jones vs Bird encounter) I vote for the movie and would even
After all, the movie puts forward the struggle of a musician, precisely a
drummer, who aspires to become “really great” and goes the distance. In a
time where hairstyle and a guitar already make a rockstar and people are
mainly concerned with being popular, this is rare in mainstream
entertainment. And most likely inspiring to everybody except the drummers
who saw the movie.
Another positive angle for drummers in particular is that next time
someone asks: “What do you do for a living?”
And you respond: “I am a drummer”,
They won’t go into the routine of: “Ah..what’s your day job?”, but say:
“WOW. THAT¹S AMAAAAZING !!!!