JK Simmons, Whiplash

Movie Review: Whiplash (2014) * JK Simmons Will Blow You Away *

Whiplash-5547.cr2Greatness.  What would you do to be the best at something?  I’m not talking good, or best that you know of, I’m talking becoming the greatest at something; better than anyone whose lived.  Would you bleed for it?  Would you abandon everything else in your life for its pursuit?  Would you be able to survive Terrence Fletcher (JK Simmons)?  That is Andrew Nieman’s dilemma as he strives to become the greatest jazz drummer of all-time in Whiplash.

Miles Teller, Whiplash

I watch and review a lot of movies, obviously.  I also end up doing a lot of research for the site so when  Whiplash appeared out of nowhere as a Best Picture nominee I was extremely curious to see it, if nothing else to see JK Simmons, who I’ve long thought was one of the best character actors working.  I thought he should have been nominated for Juno and no one will ever play J. Jonah Jameson better.  I was not at all ready for Terrence Fletcher.

This was written and directed by Damien Chazelle who is only 30 (hate him a little for that) and turned out this odd movie that builds and builds like a musical number itself, to a spectacular finish.  His shots are unique.  His script is fantastic.  This is someone to watch.  You don’t have to like jazz to love Whiplash, but if you do; this may be your new favorite movie. (“Whiplash” by the way refers to the key piece of music in the film.)

Miles Teller plays Andrew and he’s very good; much better than I thought he would be from Divergent.  The focus and drive that he instills into Andrew is electric and I’m extremely curious to know how much of the drumming he did himself.

JK Simmons, Miles Teller, Whiplash


Ok, back to JK Simmons.  He’s won nearly every Best Supporting Actor award this season and seems like a lock to win his first Oscar and he completely deserves it.  He creates a character in Terrence Fletcher so nuanced and volcanic, that you’ll never forget him.  He’s like the dark twin of Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society.

Fletcher runs the competitive jazz band at the Schaeffer School for Music and he does it with a Machiavellian, bipolar iron fist of doom.  By turns calm, polite and composed, Fletcher will erupt into a frenzy of physical, mental and most-often verbal intimidation of his band.  A serious warning here: if strong language completely turns you off to a movie, skip this.  Normally, it does to me, just because I think it’s lazy writing.  Fletcher swears so fast and so creatively that it’s almost hard to keep up with the string of vulgarities with which he bombards his students.  Some of it is very funny, some is extremely disturbing, but the simple fact of the matter is that every second JK Simmons is on the screen, you are totally and completely riveted to his performance, and you have absolutely no idea what he’s going to say or do at any given moment.  He’s nearly a co-lead with Teller; I can only think they entered him as supporting actor to give him a better chance to win.

I was lucky and found a theater playing Whiplash, and I hope that you will too.  It’s a fantastic film, and a pleasant surprise that the Oscars for once are highlighting a movie that might otherwise been overlooked.  From the first time you hear his precise footsteps to the very last shot of the film; this is JK Simmons’ finest hour.

6 thoughts on “Movie Review: Whiplash (2014) * JK Simmons Will Blow You Away *”

  1. Simmons has been one of my favorite actors for a long time. I loved his recurring role as the forensic psychiatrist on Law and Oder. I always loved that character. I’m irritated that he’s going to be in the upcoming King Kong prequel, because now I’ll be forced to see it. And I’ll probably enjoy it, because of Simmons. I gather I should run out and see Whiplash before Boyhood?


    1. I think Whiplash is a better movie than Boyhood and I’d be fine with it or American Sniper winning Best Picture, but I do still have three to see. Simmons creates one of those characters that just last in your brain. I hate that director/writer for being so fricking young lol


  2. I saw the trailer a few months ago – my boss showed it to me at work – and I’ve been looking forward to this ever since. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those films that doesn’t get the attention it deserves and if it wasn’t for the nominations, I probably would’ve forgotten about it.

    Fortunately, it’s out on Netflix on the 24th (yes, I still get the DVD’s) and I know I’ll be watching it shortly after 🙂 Looking forward to it…


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