Quick Pick: Whiplash (2014)

R, 107 minutes, 2014

Starring: Miles TellerJ.K. SimmonsPaul Reiser

J.K. Simmons might best be known to the masses as the boastful J. Jonah Jameson from the Spider-Man franchise.  Earlier today I posted about a film in which he plays an educator.  But what happens when you take ol’ Jonah, make him an educator, and turn off the safety?

You get Whiplash, a film not really about the song it takes the title from.  Andrew (Miles Teller) plays an aspiring college student determined on because the best drummer and his teacher (J.K. Simmons) is hell-bent on seeing Andrew fail.  As a national jazz competition grows near, the tensions between the two reach an explosive height that they both can’t come back from.

That’s it.  Simple story.  It’s more about pushing yourself; committing to becoming good at one thing.  Drama happens, but it feels like an afterthought–no, more of a consequence to the path Andrew has taken.  The violence expressed by Simmons is genuine blacklash that seems to be missing from a society prone to backing away from negative respite.

In all, this isn’t the kind of movie I see winning awards, but it is the kind that reminds you that some people walk through Hell in order to try and achieve something.  It’s subtle ending was so sly that it took a moment for my brain to process.  In it’s own way the film asks, “How are you following your dreams?”

Rating: Watch it once.