Whiplash 2014 film, Fletcher is gay

Whiplash: A music film & comma; that feels like a war movie

dated February 18, 2015

Blood, Sweat and Tears - Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons shine in the first great music film of the year.

New York (mma) - For 19-year-old jazz drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), absolute top and absolute madness are not a contradiction in terms. In the Oscar-nominated "Whiplash", on the contrary, these attributes are causally linked. Neiman, a student at the most renowned music conservatory in the USA, dreams of a big breakthrough.

On the way to the top, the drummer follows the maxim of his jazz band leader (J.K. Simmons), who demands everything from the members of his ensemble. Terence Fletcher's motto is that something outstanding can only be created through brutal physical and psychological self-exploitation. Self-conquest up to and including self-destruction is part of his ideology.

With his second feature film, newcomer director Damien Chazelle takes the American archetype of the self-made man ad absurdum: The postmodern path to the top can only succeed through hard work, perseverance and focus. It is no coincidence that Chazelle uses a jazz drummer for the character study - "Whiplash" primarily tells Chezel's personal story.

"There are a lot of films about the joy of music"comments the director, who already expanded the subject in 2012 in a short film of the same name and won a jury award at the Sundance Film Festival."But as a young drummer in a conservatoire jazz orchestra, my most frequent emotion was a different one: fear."

More war than music film

So it is the fear of failure that chases the main character Neiman through the 107 minutes. Whipped by the relentless band leader who takes the smallest inaccuracies in the game as an occasion to dismantle his musicians, Neiman fights with the fear of the missed beat, the fear of the wrong tempo and the fear of Fletcher.

"I wanted to make a music film that felt like a war film", explains Chazelle. In fact, he presents JK Simmons as a terrific unscrupulous drill instructor. In dictatorial fashion, Fletcher pays tribute to the students, yells at them and throws objects at them. He constantly demands sweat from the ensemble, using blood and tears - there are plenty of them in "Whiplash" - to work like clockwork.

Lonely top

"I went to the conservatory to push people beyond other people's expectations", says Fletcher before the film finale in the Manhattan Carnegie Hall. In the end, he even accepts severe emotional damage, as demonstrated by the suicide of an ex-student. Against this background, it seems extremely cynical how the director of his band always with a laconic one "Let's have fun!"posted on the stage.

Meanwhile, loner Neiman does not question the militarism of his teacher, but projects the role of father onto him. Neiman's influence from his own father, whose career as a writer has failed, makes him the most dogged disciple of this doctrine. The drummer breaks all other social structures, presumably sabotages his teammates, sacrifices girlfriend and friendship at the temple of excellence and in the inflamed madness does not let go of the place behind the drum kit despite a traffic accident.

Anecdotes about Charlie "Bird" Parker

"Whiplash" provokes. Compromises are unthinkable among the best, is one possible reading of the film. Outstanding musical skills can be developed through uncompromising discipline. Band leader Fletcher leads the legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker to support this daring thesis.

It was only after a cymbal that, according to legend, drummer Jo Jones threw him at his head because of rhythm errors during a performance, did the teenager become an outstanding musician, says Fletcher Neiman repeatedly. It was this humiliation through physical violence that motivated Parker, according to the anecdote, to practice his game for thousands of hours and ultimately to become the legendary Charlie "Bird" Parker.


Chazelle's approach of presenting music like a competitive sport and relying solely on precision instead of intuition is ultimately like a jazz caricature. In this respect, at second glance, the director succeeds in creating an intense parable: What on the surface could be misinterpreted as an unethical career guide is in fact an abuse of power.

At the end of the film, drummer Neiman seems close to a breakthrough. However, he may have lost everything along the way.

7 comments with 27 replies

  • mr_bad_guy6 years ago

    "What on the surface could be misinterpreted as an unethical career guide is in fact an abuse of power.
    At the end of the film, drummer Neiman seems close to a breakthrough. However, he may have lost everything along the way. "

    The problem with both the film and this review (and many other reviews as well) is that it is never questioned whether this "drill" can lead to the goal, whether the "world's best" drummer might need more than fast and clean to play whether this approach to a genre of music that is based on improvisation and creativity and thus also on the risk of making mistakes can be valid in any way at all. The same image of jazz is drawn here as of the surroundings of the Lincoln Center: jazz as a sport with such clear guidelines that have to be fulfilled that there is hardly any room for personal development. This way of looking at jazz perverts an art form that used to stand for freedom into a perfect symbol of a competitive society, in which it is mainly about functioning. My main criticism of the film is that it doesn't question any of this, just raises the question of whether success is worth this unconditional drill. Incidentally, I was shocked to find that hardly any reviews really take up this point. (Only the taz has a counterexample.) Obviously, the idea of ​​performance is so deeply anchored in society that it is not even questioned when judging art ... In my opinion, neither the filmmaker nor the author of this review have (and the authors of many other reviews) understood what making music (and especially jazz) is all about. And that, although probably very few choose their music according to the criterion for which pieces the musicians had to practice the hardest ...) Admittedly, the film was very captivating, not a second boring and well implemented ...

    PS: The anecdote with Charlie Parker and Jo Jones goes like this, however, that Jones only pounded the pelvis on the floor and not Parker's head ... (also interesting, by the way, how often and in how many variants this story in various reviews That movie was misrepresented. Der Spiegel even makes Parker the saxophonist for the Count Basie Bigband ...

    • User-14129 6 years ago

      Excellent comment. I also wondered what this drill was supposed to have to do with jazz.

      For many (local) musicians, the essence of jazz is the elitist, performance-related anyway. Creativity, potentially error-prone spontaneity and even fun seem to play less of a role here.

      However, one must also note that the film is about a jazz orchestra. This of course restricts the creative leeway and makes this performance and perfection-oriented at least somewhat understandable.

    • mr_bad_guy6 years ago

      I don't doubt that there are such teachers or band leaders (to be more precise, I've had the dubious pleasure of getting to know a few). What I doubt is that this method will be helpful in any way. In addition, this sporty view of music goes against the grain for me. The understanding of art that this film reveals and even propagates disqualifies it as a good film / good art despite a fairly good craftsmanship. This is because craftsmanship is not an end in itself, but just a tool to be able to express yourself. This is exactly what Damien Chazelle did not understand ...

      (And actually I don't want to praise the craftsmanship too highly ... a little more research and realism would have done the film good. Just like the recording of the drum tracks from a drummer who has not only been involved with jazz for a few days employed.)

    • Ragism6 years ago

      I also thank you very much for the comment above. Especially the current state of renowned music schools and university music education can hardly provide real genius, even if there is no physical or psychological violence, as in the film. The pressure to perform and the ultimate goal of perfection create a terrible impoverishment.

    • User-14129 6 years ago

      @mr_bad_Guy: The audience, who are not drummers or musicians, is just impressed by the speed. Nobody else cares that this has nothing to do with groove and feeling ...

    • Santiago 6 years ago

      You already know that the film is supposed to deal with Chazelle's own experiences in his high school band, right? It's not for nothing that the film has often been referred to as a "full metal jazz kit": It's about the drill that Chazelle probably went through, not so much about the equation "technology = genius".

    • User-436306 years ago

      "In my opinion, neither the filmmakers nor the writer of this review (and the writers of many other reviews) have understood what making music (and especially jazz) is all about."

      "Chazelle's approach of presenting music like a competitive sport and relying solely on precision instead of intuition is ultimately like a jazz caricature."

      Could it be that you missed that?

    • Santiago 6 years ago

      I don't have; My only concern is that Chazelle doesn't want to portray the music per se, but rather his personal experiences as a competitive sport. Anyone who wants to understand the scenes shown in Whiplash as a statement about music in general has, in my opinion, seen the film with the wrong eyes (after all, the drill in the film is not glorified or similar).

    • mr_bad_guy6 years ago

      @ Santiago: I never spoke of "genius". This is Ragism's vocabulary. If you want to criticize statements in this thread, I would like to encourage you to go into individual contributions and precise statements instead of using the shotgun ...
      By the way, the drill is glorified by the fact that it ultimately leads to the desired success and the statements about music are contained in the film. If Chazelle hadn't wanted to do it, he shouldn't have done it. But he wanted to. In interviews, he says the following about his time as a drum student as an inspiration for the film:

      "I thought back to how every day, when I was with this teacher, it felt like a living hell, but I became a really good drummer as a result. So that was the question in my mind: would I have wanted it a different way? Is that kind of behavior worth it? I used that as basic inspiration for the character of Fletcher, but I took Fletcher to somewhat different levels. "

      and about the questions he wanted to raise with the film (about the character Andrew Neiman:

      "There's a tragic aspect of his character, but it's the Charlie Parker story: is it okay that Charlie Parker led a life of suffering if it yielded these solos and performances and recordings that we listen to these days? Is that something that, in the moral equation of things, is acceptable? As a humanist, I don't think it is; as a lover of art, it's a more difficult question for me. "

      (source: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/1…)

    • Santiago 6 years ago

      It would only have been glorified if the film had had the message that this drill is the only real way to musical genius. It worked for Chazelle personally, he became a "good drummer" - as your source shows, that's what he wanted to portray in the film. Great art is always "ars" + "ingenium", but nowhere in the film is art broken down to the "ars", because nowhere is it claimed that this drill would make you a great artist, but a technically good drummer (with the appropriate (!) Success). Just because a film focuses on the technical aspects of art doesn't mean it reduces them to that.

    • mr_bad_guy6 years ago

      "Great art is always" ars "+" ingenium "," That is not my view of things.

      "Nowhere in the film is art broken down to the" ars ", because nowhere is it claimed that this drill would make you a great artist,"

      So it's not always about finding or creating something like the new Charlie Parker?

      "but to a technically good drummer (with corresponding (!) success)." And, firstly, that doesn't work and, secondly, it's not necessary for a good instrumentalist. In the course of my life so far I have met some excellent instrumentalists who really do things on their instrument that seem almost impossible. They all have something in common: They do not perceive practicing and working with their instrument as a burden or as something for which discipline would be necessary, but rather enjoy doing it with passion.
      On the other hand, by the way, you can stand yelling next to an instrumentalist for as long as you want: his timing doesn't get any better. The likelihood that it will get worse is even significantly higher. (and I've already seen some who have tried it ...)

      That Chazelle thinks this kind of drill has done him good just goes to show that, first of all, he didn't really have the urge to play the drums and didn't really grapple with it at all to set goals for himself, and to know which technical weaknesses he has to eliminate in order to play the way he would like to play (a teacher is only there to provide assistance in achieving these goals ...) and, secondly, that he never reaches a certain musical / artistic maturity that goes beyond pubertal tail comparison.

    • User-436306 years ago

      You did your nickname credit.

    • User-436306 years ago

      In his heart of hearts, Santiago knows that every genius also has madness. He even admires such individuals.

    • Ragism6 years ago

      This comment was removed 6 years ago by the author.

    • Ragism6 years ago

      It does not necessarily have to be that military drill and a zealous will for perfection are not endured motivated by a kind of love. It is also possible that Chazelle still has a heart for drumming.
      But I absolutely agree with you that this is hardly the right way to become a good musician, let alone the optimal condition for creativity and ultimately genius. Whereby Chazelle should probably be a confirmation of the rule, as he should be better known for this film than he could have become for his drumming.
      I haven't seen the film yet, but you described your criticism so plausibly that I lower my expectations a little. I was actually looking forward to the film because I expected it to show not only the cruelty, but also the futility of such an education.

    • user3716 years ago

      "Incidentally, the drill is very well glorified in that it ultimately leads to the desired success and the statements about music are contained in the film."

      The fact is that we as viewers don't even know at the end of the film whether the drill will lead to the "desired success". The protagonist has reached a new level of development. He understood the methods of the "mentor" and took up the fight and delivered something to the talent scouts. It is not clear to us where we are going from this point, but this level certainly does not yet correspond to that of the "desired success" that the protagonist is striving for.

      It should also be noted that the film portrays very subtly that decisions can lead to a waiver in other areas, so it is by no means a winner story.

    • mr_bad_guy6 years ago

      But making music is not about "taking up the fight" and impressing "talent scouts". The whole concept of the film completely perverts the idea of ​​art in general, and music and jazz in particular. It is not about "performance" or about somehow ascending in a hierarchy in which one becomes "better". Unfortunately, if you subtract these elements from the film, there is hardly anything left.
      The fact that "decisions lead to a waiver in other areas" is neither a particularly profound insight nor is it particularly "sensitively portrayed" by the film. For example, the protagonist's girlfriend appears only twice: on the first and last date ... It doesn't necessarily give the impression that he cares very much about her.
      Incidentally, I also find the scene after the car accident more absurd and more than unrealistic than anything else. Otherwise, I can not think of any area that was in any way about "renunciation".

    • user3716 years ago

      I wasn't saying that "taking up the fight" etc. has anything to do with making music (at least not in general).

      It is so that we do not know whether the whole thing will lead to the "desired success".In my opinion, the film did not focus on this aspect either, rather the abuse of power by the coach was in the foreground. And with it the questions of where the limit lies in pushing.

      I see it this way: A coach is shown here who uses his idiosyncratic methods to create a new artist. Whether that is possible or not is put aside, but this coach does not represent the general case. Therefore, in my opinion, one cannot speak of the fact that the film generally perverts jazz by, as you explain, being very performance-related is.

      I just found it refreshing that the girlfriend appears so rarely. Often enough, such secondary strands have been implemented in an exaggerated cliché. You're right: he doesn't care much about her; he can put the end point without any major problems.

      The car accident scene can of course be viewed from different angles.

    • mr_bad_guy6 years ago

      "The fact is that we don't know whether the whole thing will lead to the" desired success "."

      Doesn't the film show that it is enough to stand next to a drummer and yell at him so he can play faster? And that after all the crap he went through in the film, the student can actually play through Caravan halfway properly in the end? Don't both Andrew and Fletcher have very pleased expressions at the end of the film? In my opinion, the film never questions the need for a drill. The truthfulness of the Charlie Parker anecdote is never questioned ... Only the question of whether the gain is worth the psychological damage is raised.

      In my opinion, a film with this topic cannot avoid positioning itself with regard to the terms art and music. If the scriptwriter hadn't wanted that, he would have had to make a film about sports instead of music. (And as I said: Chazelle made a very clear statement about this in an interview linked above.)

    • user3716 years ago

      "Isn't it shown in the film that it is enough to stand next to a drummer and yell at him so that he can play faster? And that after all the crap he went through in the film, the student actually played through Caravan reasonably well in the end Don't both Andrew and Fletcher have very pleased expressions at the end of the film? "

      All of these things achieved, however, do not represent the "desired success". As far as I have noticed, the "desired success" was to become one of the greats. That is not the case at the end of the film. The film shows or wants to show that the protagonist is a step further. One can argue about whether this "piece further" refers to the "musicality", for me it mainly refers to the issue of abuse of power. The protagonist wanted to impress the coach, probably also because he sees a father figure in him. And he obviously succeeded, as you can see from the satisfied expression on his face.

      Now for the ...
      "Isn't shown in the film that it is enough ..."
      The protagonist practiced to excess, even alone. You saw that in a few scenes. Therefore, one cannot say that the film shows that it is enough to yell at someone for an improvement to occur.

      The film does not question the necessity of the drill. That's right. At the same time, he does not generally praise them. The motivation of an individual coach is shown because this drill seems to be right for. But I haven't found that this justifies the drill. For example, it was evident that in some areas of life the drill allowed the protagonist to drift into wrong extremes.

      The Parker anecdote was also incorrectly told, if I remember correctly.

      In the end, of course, there are different opinions. I am also aware that certain people with a jazz background will judge the film differently than film fans or viewers with a different background.

      For me, the focus of the film was on the drill topic.

      I read the interview when I get the chance.

  • Thelema6 years ago

    Yes, bad googled ...

    In case it calms you down, a number of jazz musicians on the web see this as you do.

    There is no need to paranoia about a conspiracy to reprogram the population, although this obviously actually took place (if not for strategic reasons). Apart from the fact that performance and competition have completely permeated the thinking of American society (and of course also of filmmakers) and so such a view of art is not surprising: The media industry is primarily about money. Even if a director and a screenwriter "only" want to tell a story, the producer and the film company will at some point raise the question of sales (or audience) numbers. The story is then adjusted accordingly. It's not about real life, and it's not about jazz either. Not even in the Lincoln Center version. The film is just one foil for a success story - from dishwasher to archive jazz drummer. "Rocky 7 - Whiplash".

  • Thelema6 years ago

    Nice avatar by the way!

    • oomphie6 years ago

      Thelema, finally the Thelema is back again !!!! Welcome back, come back here often !!!!!!

    • oomphie6 years ago

      Thelema, finally the Thelema is back again !!!! Welcome back, come back here often !!!!!!

    • oomphie6 years ago

      Thelema !!!! go on often, we all miss you very much !!!!!

    • User-38454 6 years ago

      Yes and let me see you in the chat again!

    • User-35757 6 years ago

      Apart from our epic mixtape battles with Thele and a few other people, I hardly read it anymore.

    • User-35757 6 years ago

      Well, let me hardly look at the other forum where I and Thele are, because everything falls asleep there.