The ‘Whiplash’ Of Artistic Success

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The new movie "Whiplash". The thin line between obsession and abuse on the road to greatness. In music, the arts…sports.

Andrew (Miles Teller) and his often demanding conductor, Terrence (J.K. Simmons) in a scene from the new film, "Whiplash." (Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics)
Andrew (Miles Teller) and his often demanding conductor, Terrence (J.K. Simmons) in a scene from the new film, "Whiplash." (Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics)

You may have had this teacher, this mentor, this coach screaming in the locker room, this band leader throwing chairs.  The one who pushed so hard it was almost crazy.  Almost wrong.  The hottest film out of Sundance this year goes right there.  To the fine, fine line between obsession in the pursuit of greatness and abuse.  The film is “Whiplash.”  About a young jazz drummer and his obsessive, abusive teacher.  Shouting, raging, pushing.  How far is too far for greatness? Director Damien Chazelle is with us.  This hour On Point:  "Whiplash."
-- Tom Ashbrook 


Damien Chazelle, director and screenwriter of the new film, "Whiplash."

A.O. Scott, New York Times film critic. (@aoscott)

Joe Bongiovi, band director of the studio band  at Princeton High School in Princeton, N.J.

From Tom's Reading List

The Atlantic: The Uncomfortable Message in Whiplash's Dazzling Finale -- "The ending of Whiplash offers one of the most electrifying movie moments this year. Centered on a rousing musical performance given by the film’s protagonist Andrew (Miles Teller), the scene is filmed and presented as a triumph, if a costly one. That's a daring choice from young director and writer Damien Chazelle, because Andrew, a student drummer, has been subjected to elite jazz-training hell by tyrannical instructor Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) over the previous 100 minutes."

New York Times: Drill Sergeant in the Music Room -- "This story of an ambitious young striver and his difficult mentor could easily have been a sports movie, and structurally, it resembles one. There are montages of grueling practice scattered among scenes of tense competition, all of it building toward a hugely suspenseful (but also, to some extent, never in doubt) championship game moment of reckoning."

Boston Globe: A standing ovation for ‘Whiplash’ -- "Chazelle says the music program at his New Jersey high school was modeled after a college program and boasted the best jazz band in the country at the time. 'We opened the JVC Jazz Festival as they do in the movie. I remember our conductor would say, ‘You think I’m scary? You have no idea. In college you’d be out like that!’'"

Watch The Trailer For "Whiplash"

This program aired on October 24, 2014.


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