Friday, March 27, 2015

Movies of 2014, "Whiplash"

            The story of one asshole drummer trying to learn from an asshole music instructor.  Eventually driven to idiotic stunts trying to impress, harm, show up, or humiliate each other.
            I do not get this movie.
            I am at my core a somewhat mellow person (even if that core is surrounded by seething anger and a desire to harm all things).  I believe that “Good Enough” is practically a personal mantra, and I regard shooting for the stars to be a foolish waste of effort doomed to failure… Okay, maybe less “mellow” and more just “cynical”.  But considering both the main characters are assholes that shouldn't have hurt my enjoyment of the movie.
            While I was in Chorus and had one guest instructor who hammered us into shape for a really remarkable performance I have never had an instructor who was violent or who called me “faggot”.  Major sort of plot hole there I suppose in that apparently no one in this music school complained about the sexual harassment or literal physical abuse the instructor visited upon them.  (I also did not realize how loathsome I now find this kind of language, I am fairly certain I would have hit him with a cymbal).
Can the prestige of blowing into a horn in front of a dozen or so people be so worth the emotional hammering?  Just get a job with a rock band or something, they are all clearly good enough and will certainly make more money and have more audience members than being in a Jazz band, and they will have more creative freedom because rather than trying to master other people’s music they can just write their own.

"Not quite my tempo." (image)
            I also do not really give a shit about 1) Jazz or 2) drumming.  I like drums and find them to be a good complimenting force to any ensemble but I do not have the ear of the world’s most gifted composer so the difference between good, great, amazing, and legend… I can’t hear it, even though the sound design on this movie captures every vibration perfectly.  At a certain point the speed at which they are playing stops sounding like music and just sounds like a lot of banging and crashing.  The last five minutes of this movie could have been replaced with layers of construction noise and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.  They talk about famous drummers and incidents in music history and I have no clue what they are referring to, and have never heard of the people they are talking about; one of the rare instances in which I wish the movie would break away from the narrative “Seabiscuit” style and have a Ken Burns’-esc explanation of who and what the hell is being discussed.  (There is a reference, nobody remembers that movie).
            What am I, as a typical person, supposed to be taking away from this?  That an unhealthy obsession with anything will eventually yield greatness?  I am certain that isn't the message, because it is only after months of not drumming or being ridiculed that the character manages to attain… Drumming Nirvana?  The movie doesn't really illustrate abuse as a functional teaching method, it fails to illustrate how teamwork is important (and in a band it is).  So what is the point?
            Was this movie just made for people who are really into music or really into suffering for art?  If so then I am too much the outsider to really appreciate it, regardless of being able to recognize the excellent acting and production on display.  Movies need to be made for different audiences and groups, I get that.  They do not have to please me, I have no right to break into their clubhouse and shit on their rug… I am also under no obligation to like or recommend their movie.
Overall: 6/10

MORE DRUMMING! (image, I actually get board listening to this music.)
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