Whiplash

First Hit:  Incredibly dynamic acting backed by an amazing soundtrack.

When you see an actor in a few character parts through the years and more recently as a spokesperson for an insurance company, it's easy to get an opinion and pigeon hole the person.

It was so eye opening to see J.K. Simmons capture scenes with such incredible compassion, anger, and power. Here he Fletcher a band leader and instructor at the most prestigious music conservatory in New York City. Fletcher uses intimidation, degradation, and manipulative cruelty with occasional kindness to try to get the most out of the band members.

The scene where he says someone is out of key was so cruel. He discovers a drummer in a practice room named Andrew (Miles Teller), who is wholly focused on being a great drummer. Fletcher invites him into the “Studio” band where he gets a chair thrown at him, gets hit in the face by Fletcher’s hand (are you late or rushing?), and yelled at.

He meets a girl Nicole (Melissa Benoist) but drops her because he thinks she’ll resent his dedication and career choice of being a drummer. He gains a small level of respect from Fletcher, but then gets pushed down to second drummer.

The music the band plays is some of the best jazz music to hit a film a in a long time. The film has a satisfying ending and the end song is absolutely divine – I couldn’t stop moving – the beat - the sound - it was sublime.

Simmons was amazing. His facial expressions and the way he expressed his stories and then pounced like a possessed animal was extraordinary. Teller was great. He embodied a loner who wanted to do and be great. Benoist was excellent in her brief role. Damien Chazelle wrote and directed this film. The script was great and direction excellent.

Overall:  I fully enjoyed the music and the story was compelling.