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Winter Film Festival

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The 2021 Festival will not be happening due to Covid-19 restrictions.  Film information below is from the 2020 Festival.

Sunday February 1, 2015 1:00pm
Rainbow Theatre, Northumberland Mall, Cobourg

WhiplashAbout Whiplash: A talented young jazz drummer experiences a trial by fire when he's recruited by a ferocious instructor whose unyielding search for perfection may lead to his undoing. For as far back as Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) can remember, he's been watching his father fail. Determined to make a name for himself no matter what it takes, Andrew enrolls in a prestigious east coast music conservatory where his talent quickly catches the attention of Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) an esteemed music teacher who's notorious for his caustic approach in the classroom. The leader of the school's top jazz ensemble, Fletcher promptly transfers Neyman into his band, giving the ambitious young drummer a shot at true greatness. He may achieve it, too, if Neyman's methods don't drive him to madness first.

Stars: Miles Teller, J. K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser, Austin Stowell, Jayson Blair
Director: Damien Chazelle
Genre: Drama | Music  Language: English
Run Time: 107 min   Rating: 14A
Music: Justin Hurwitz


Review by Louise Keller:

Thrilling and disturbing in equal parts, Damien Chazelle's magnificent film Whiplash, about a young jazz drummer obsessed with greatness and the sadistic teacher who pushes him to the brink, is a showcase in which fear, not harmony reigns. J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller offer superlative and unforgettable performances, as their characters duel as if in a fight to the death. Words cannot describe the terror, tension and ferocious power of the film in which ambition and intimidation are discordant bedfellows. How far an artist should be pushed to achieve greatness is one of the questions that is raised. It's a devastating portrait filled literally with blood, sweat and tears, leaving our hearts pounding as fast as the intense drumming. The music is extraordinary, too.

whiplashThe setting is New York's elite Shaffer Conservatorium of Music and Andrew (Miles Teller) is an aspiring young drummer who wants to leave his mark. He lives and breathes music; drumming is his obsession, listening to recordings of Buddy Rich in his spare moments. Terence Fletcher (Simmons) is the conservatorium's God maker; we immediately sense how vital it is to Andrew that Fletcher notices him. It is the cruel, callous way Fletcher operates that gets under our skin as he offers some unexpected words of encouragement to students, elicits some personal information before using it against them. He is a monster.

It seems as though Andrew's fortunes are looking up, when he is singled out by Fletcher and simultaneously gets a date with the pretty student (Melissa Benoist) who sells popcorn at the movie theatre. But neither opportunity turns out as expected. In the background is Andrew's father (Paul Reiser), a disillusioned, failed writer who quietly supports his son but clearly doesn't understand musical aspirations or what drives him.

Humiliation, bullying, violence are all part of the mix with chairs being hurled, faces slapped and students stripped down to size. Watching blood drip onto the drum kit from Andrew's overtaxed fingers and hands, while close to exhaustion, is unsettling to say the least.

Teller drums with the passion of a man possessed, the physicality of the performance is astounding. As for Simmons, his performance is breathtaking: we are captivated by every tiny expression on his distinctive features. The way he turns from violent abuser to a gentle man is equally impressive. This is a role of a lifetime.

Winner of the 2014 Sundance Grand Jury prize and the Audience Award, Chazelle's film began in embryotic stage as a short (also winning at Sundance), drawing on his own experiences as a drummer. It is as tense as any psychological thriller and replete with terrifying moments. It occurred to me during one devastating scene that the dark twists and turns are Neil Labute-esque. But it also has the operatic highs that only music can bring; that show-stopping sequence at the end of the film when the music wins, is the moment when our hearts can soar. One of the best films of the year.