TIFF 2014: 'Whiplash' Keeps Perfect Time in Thrilling Drama

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One of 2014's most entertaining films examines the pursuit of musical perfection. What is so stunning is that Whiplash, which screened for critics Sept. 4—opening day of the Toronto International Film Festival—is a breathless thriller, leaving a chill that lasted into a muggy Toronto summer evening long after the film was over. The last time a movie approached this theme with such savage accomplishment was 1984's Amadeus.

Be forewarned; Whiplash unleashes a haunting new movie villain named Terence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons). He's not a serial killer but oh, my, this man is a sociopath. Make no mistake: there will be blood.

"There are no two words in the English language that are more harmful than 'good job,'" says Fletcher, a perfectionist jazz impresario whose presence instantly cools the room while his words cut to the marrow.

J.K. Simmons is possibly the hardest working character actor in Hollywood (you may remember him best from those State Farm commercials). Simmons jumps to the top of the list for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a Svengali who holds his exclusive student jazz-band in the tightest of grips. 

The latest student to squirm under Fletcher's tutelage is Andrew Neyman, played by Miles Teller (2013's The Spectacular Now). Neyman is a prodigy jazz drummer destined for greatness but only if he survives to tell the tale.



Whiplash opens in October in New York and Los Angeles, and it will be in Boise before you know it. I would unabashedly recommend this powerhouse film to anyone, and I can't wait for you to see it.