One of the first articles of our new column was dedicated to the masterpiece of the world cinema “Metropolis”. We remind that the picture was staged more than 80 years ago. No, we can not assert that old movies automatically become “brilliant”, just as a sign of respect for some actor. Not always Hitchcock’s films were recognized by viewers or critics, and one of the Hollywood’s greatest actresses, Joan Crawford, chose roles for herself in the versatile projects. We lead us to the fact that we like to complain that the cinema has died, it is not a genre of art. You know, in 30 years, the critics will praise some of the films that we are ignoring (“Citizen Kane” and de Palma’s “Scarface” have earned the status of legendary in a couple of decades).
Today, our “hero” will not be so old picture, filmed just four years ago, “Whiplash”. It is possible that not every spectator knows this title, and the name of the director, Damien Chazelle, is not so famous as Tarantino or Spielberg. It does not matter. Damien is a young talented generation that is fighting against that banality, cheapness and mass character on the screen.
But it is worth noting that Chazelle is already favorite of the public. 2017 was his year: the musical “La La Land” is included in the rating of the best films in the history of cinema (in addition, owner of numerous awards). And Damien was awarded as Best Director.
But let’s go back to the “Whiplash”. This movie is more powerful than “La-la-Land”, but it will be correct to not compare them at all. Both pictures show the action in the “music universe”, where one reality borders on the other (not with fantasy). If “La La Land” is a melodramatic tale-utopia for our contemporary world of truth and undisguised cruelty, the “Whiplash” tells of the life of a talented young man who “kills” himself through art… However, such extraordinary individuals sacrificed everything, just to be the best, ideal, first.
What have we got turning on the film? Three characters: the young talent, Andrew, a genius (but, certainly, tyrannical) head of the Orchestra, Fletcher, and drums. You can ask why the drums 9not music or just jazz, sounding really like a hero) was selected? The name of the picture “Whiplash” alludes to “notes of drums”. If we “go deeper”, the title has more than ten interpretations: Fletcher’s teaching methods, Andrew’s life, the life of the orchestra in general, etc. But why not introduce the hero in the form of drums?
What about actors? Actually the good film needs three components – professional actors, an unusual, “fresh” view of the director, an interesting script. So, Andrew, incarnated by Miles Teller. What is known about the actor: Miles has seldom worthy projects (“Fantastic Four” received bad reviews, “Divergent”, fleeting “dystopian science fiction action film” for teenagers), and, perhaps, Chazelle was afraid of taking on the role of this actor. Maybe, Teller sometimes does not carry on works, or has no intuition for movies, but we must recognize his complex mental work in “Obsession”. He “puzzled” his character, “put” it back; in this scene he is an ordinary teenager, and in the another is obsessed with every blow. Teller really studied the playing on drums, and the blood in one scene on his hands was actually real.
J. K. Simmons as the head of orchestra Fletcher. Simmons received Oscar statuette in 2015 for his performance in “Whiplash”. The actor showed himself so organically that it seemed there was no game, but just took to the side. Some people criticize and dispute Fletcher’s personality: too cold-blooded, this is a machine, not a human being. But is not it necessary to get a “machine”? Would not it be boring and predictable to watch his changing character? And It would be strange that Fletcher’s principles, habits, and views changed due to one person, no matter how talented he was.
By the way, about “machies”: in the end we get Andrew as a “robot” too. That’s what art can do. For the beautiful is very often hidden pain, tragedy, loss. Thus, art becomes a catharsis: to go through everything to become free and enlightened.
Not all the pictures are watched in one breath. “Whiplash” is the one; somewhere, rude and cruel, sarcastic and cynical, but this is too much of a good thing. Some critics insist that Chazelle’s work, it’s ridiculous. Music was not only a sound but also a detail: even if you simply turn on “Whiplash” in silent mode, you will listen to the melody. The correct montage, as a designer, collected the film. Chamber scenes conveyed all the psychological subtleties, set the rhythm.
A conflicting film was able to receive three Academy Awards, but it’s not so important. Chazelle proved himself as a master, became a favorite of many critics and other venerable directors.
If You, our reader, have not watched “Whiplash” yet, then we suggest to do this, to take a break from routine and remember what art means.