Arts & Entertainment

Beat Your Drum for Whiplash: A Winning Percussive Presentation

fc129991c4c54f13da91_Simmons_Whiplash.jpg
Academy Award winner JK Simmons in Whiplash.
bf29d6bf001e466d3d66_Whiplash.jpg
fc129991c4c54f13da91_Simmons_Whiplash.jpg
Forget everything you know about J.K. Simmons, the underappreciated character actor has made his career playing affable father figures --most notably as the patriarch in the 2007 indie hit Juno. His turn in Whiplash is a brilliant reversal, one that earned him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor Oscar. 
 
This well-paced, smartly-written and incredibly intense drama tells the story of a young jazz percussionist struggling to become one of the greats who meets his match in Simmons’ Fletcher, an insanely ferocious professor and conductor. The film charts the ups and downs of a kid obsessed with determination and persistence; its themes will read true not only for jazz-lovers and musicians but also for all people pursuing their passion, hell-bent on success.
 
 
Whiplash is the perfect vehicle for its two stars and features an excellent Miles Teller in a star-making role. Keep an eye on this kid; he’s going places. The 27-year-old actor broke out with 2010’s Rabbit Hole and since then has been stealing scenes as Peter in Divergent and other films like 21 and Over and That Awkward Moment. But the real indication of this actor’s talent came from the under-the-radar book adaptation The Spectacular Now. Teller glowed there as a flawed alcoholic teen and Whiplash allows him to glow again. 
 
Teller nails the subtleties of the aspiring drummer persona who demonstrates a range of emotions throughout the film, without ever taking the easy way out and overacting. Instead of sobbing hysterically after a tirade from the spectacularly terrifying Simmons, he shows an understated internalization of defeat on his face. On a first date, instead of chuckling nervously, he displays a perfectly delicate expression. 

The story may sound simple, but I haven’t seen such an intense and gripping film since last year’s glorious suspense-driven Captain Phillips. The comparative experience of exiting both theaters so shaken up from the stressful and intense viewings speaks volumes about the effect Whiplash will inevitably have on all who see it.
 
J.K. Simmons is the reason Whiplash succeeds. He berates, belittles, humiliates, and throws chairs in an unnerving tour-de-force performance as Fletcher, the elite conductor set on rooting out a new legend through his brutal techniques. However, he never loses the humanity in his role. Teller’s Andrew is not righteous and Simmons’ Fletcher is not evil. The characters in the film have dimension, and Simmons, in his tight black shirt and furiously profane motor-mouth, admirably maintains it.
 
Although this drumming drama relies less on plot and more on acting, this does not mean Damien Chazelle, a novice filmmaker, skimps on the script or directing. A great minimalistic plot splendidly achieves its purpose of highlighting its stars while at the same time producing a fantastically stylish and intense creation. Whiplash is one of the best movies you will see this year.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

Sex Toys, Gay Jokes, Nepotism, Frat-Boy Pranks; Mountainside P.D. Out of Control Says Lawsuit

May 19, 2018

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – In a 46-page complaint packed with allegations of harassment involving sex toys, official misconduct, nepotism, hazing, double-dipping and other egregious behavior, five Mountainside police officers and a female employee are suing the borough in state Superior Court.

The complaint, filed by officers Jeffrey Stinner, Christopher Feighner, Richard Latargia, Thomas ...

Penguin Exhibit Opens at Turtle Back Zoo

May 8, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — African penguins have officially joined the giraffes, lions and hyenas in the African Adventure at the Turtle Back Zoo, bringing all of the zoo’s animals from the largest continent into the same area.

Local dignitaries joined Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. in opening the new Shores of Africa Penguin Exhibit on Friday afternoon.

"Our penguins ...

Capitalist or Communist?

Karl Marx may have been the pioneer, but many other Jews were also involved in the struggle for communism, particularly in the early days of the Russian revolution. Personally, I don’t think that we have any apologies to make for this phenomenon. Having suffered unbearably under successive oppressive regimes, many of those political activists genuinely thought communism would be better ...

The Facts About Vaping

May 13, 2018

Dear Editor:

The recent public discussion about vaping and “Juuling” that occurred at our high school really opened the eyes of a lot of parents who may have been clueless about what their kids are doing to themselves. There is a lot of conflicting and confusing information available online, on YouTube and social media about the so-called benefits of vaping vs. smoking ...

Ask Maria: When Should We Step in to Rescue Our Children?

May 8, 2018

Dear Maria: 

My husband and I have been very child-focused most of our lives. We have always put our children first. Many times we have stepped in and rescued and we think it's starting to cause issues. Do you think this parenting style is damaging and what are the consequences of our behavior as they mature? How do we stop it?

Thanks so much!

ANSWER:

As parents, we all have ...

Teens Invited to Participate in Coding and Bi-Weekly After-School Club at the Scotch Plains Public Library

May 22, 2018

On Wednesday, June 13 at 6 pm, teens in grades 5-12 are invited to the Coding Club. The library will provide Microsoft Surface tablets and iPads, along with suggestions for websites and programs that can teach useful coding skills. No registration is required but space is limited and tablets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.

Finally, don’t forget about the ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_ba317921a2cba7b2db89_great_american_read

Thu, May 24, 7:00 PM

Scotch Plains Public Library, Scotch Plains

The Great American Read Kickoff Celebration

Arts & Entertainment

Fri, June 1, 8:00 AM

Royce Brook Golf Club, Hillsborough Township

Liam's Room 5th Annual Charity Golf Outing

Giving Back Sports