Whiplash (2014)

While I’ve heard this short-turned-feature dismissed as an overwrought caricature, writer/ director, Damien Chazelle had yet to prove his storytelling chops with “10 Cloverfield Lane” and certainly before the successful “La La Land” when he crafted his depiction of a sadistic music teacher, who he patterned after one of his own. Since the film’s release, many musicians have spoken out in support of its accuracy, which was the only compelling reason I had to watch it.

It took me a couple of days to finish this movie; due to its emotional intensity I took frequent breaks. Had it not been for sublimely meticulous craftsmanship it would’ve seemed melodramatic. It also helped that I had warm associations with both J. K. Simmons and Paul Reiser, not that it should’ve mattered. Still, overall—despite its anxiety-inducing quality—it paints a vivid picture of that fine line between focused motivation and injurious obsession. The likes of which may never be matched.

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