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Whiplash is the best film I’ve seen in the past year. It is intense with great acting. J.K. Simmons (a favorite character actor of mine) plays an uncompromising studio jazz band leader at a top music conservatory, and he comes off as a raging Drill Instructor from Hell – demanding complete perfection and even more from his students. He is obsessed with mentoring and driving students until he produces a true jazz legend.

Damien Chazelle, the writer/director, is said to have been inspired by the intense and unforgettable drill instructor character in the first half of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket played by Lee Ermey, who had actually been a former USMC drill instructor. Whether this is true or not, it would make perfect sense, because the same fanaticism is there.

Don’t miss the performance of J.K. Simmons here, because there should be major award nominations for him, and it blew me away. The jazz drum student that he drives so hard is played very well by Miles Teller. And the music is great.

One aspect of the film that reminded me of Objectivism is when one of the main characters is so dedicated to his pursuit of excellence in his art that he sees that it is truly necessary to break off a valued relationship because he knows his art will always come first. The high costs of excellence.

-Ross Barlow.

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Yes, Whiplash, with the possible exception of Nightcrawler, is the best film of 2014. Movies approach perfection when the world they reveal is credible in every respect. By mostly confining the setting to the dark halls of a music school, and by focusing on a drum student, his teacher, and very few other people, Whiplash delivers a story that is intimate, persuasive, and philosophically challenging.

I am tempted to discuss the ideas that underlie the conflict between the characters played by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons (who both deliver Oscar caliber work), but I am convinced that much of the joy in the film comes through the viewer's unraveling that on his own.

I'll say this much: like those who made Unbroken and The Imitation Game, the filmmakers here understand the dramatic power of an uncompromising individual who sets a goal and makes that goal the primary purpose of his life.


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