Movie Review: Revisiting ‘Whiplash’ (2014) “Not Quite My Tempo”


For me, part of the joy of watching director Damien Chazelle’s breakthrough movie Whiplash again is that, according to mood, you can ally yourself with either Miles Teller’s aspiring jazz drummer Andrew Neiman or with his tyrannical instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons).


Whiplash TRAILER 1 (2014) - J.K. Simmons, Miles Teller Movie HD


After multiple viewings, I tend to side with Fletcher, as the whiny, introverted Neiman has a strong streak of masochism which appears to egg on Simmons’ worst excesses in his teaching methods.


Which, since they include physical and verbal abuse, are obviously beyond the pale, but kind of make sense if you buy into Fletcher’s worldview:


Whiplash - Fletcher - Charlie Parker Speech - Motivational Speech


There’s something of the MAGA-crowd about Neiman, his ‘snowflakey’ kvetching and selfishness resembling those Trump myrmidons who appear to get off on being ordered around by and emulating their deeply disturbed master.


And of course, as once rational Republicans embraced U.S. President Trump, they also adopted some of the soon-to-be-former POTUS’ knack for verbal abuse and self-justification:


Whiplash Funniest Scene - NFL | Whiplash (2014) | 1080p HD


Andrew (Miles Teller): I’d rather die drunk, broke at 34 and have people at a dinner table talk about me than live to be rich and sober at 90 and nobody remembered who I was.

Uncle Frank (Charles Mulkey): Ah, but your friends will remember you, that’s the point.

Andrew: None of us were friends with Charlie Parker. *That’s* the point.

Uncle Frank: Travis and Dustin? They have plenty of friends and plenty of purpose.

Andrew: I’m sure they’ll make great school board presidents someday.

Dustin (Charlie Ian): Oh, that’s what this is all about? You think you’re better than us?

Andrew: You catch on quick. Are you in Model UN?

Travis (Jayson Blair): I got a reply for you, Andrew. You think Carleton football’s a joke? Come play with us.

Andrew: Four words you will never hear from the NFL.


Politics aside, Whiplash is a superb film, one combining great performances, biting black humour and an amazing soundtrack (I defy you not to tap your feet or ‘air drum’ whilst watching).


Whiplash Soundtrack 04 - Whiplash


At the 87th Academy Awards in February 2015, Simmons justifiably won Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the oddly engaging Fletcher.


Fletcher's Song in Club - Whiplash HD 2014


Oh, and from Dear Old Blighty – congratulations to (Presumed) U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris!



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Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'