Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Whiplash with Clenched Fists

I think everyone remembers their desired goal when they were young, even though it is forgotten when we grow up. Whiplash reminds me of it in some hideously brutal way. It is a 2014 American drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle based on his experiences in Princeton High School Studio Band. Miles Teller is the lead as Andrew Nieman as a student at a music conservatory in Manhattan and Terrence Fletcher as J.K.Simmons playing the Band teacher. This film had a big impact on me, so I would like to share my ideas. 

First, the plot is intriguing. A young and talented drummer, Andrew attending a prestigious music academy wants to be the greatest jazz drummer in the world and he quickly learns that Fletcher operates on fear and intimidation. Fletcher does not hold back on abuse towards his students, he pushes his students as much as he can. So some of them give up and the others have to endure his tyranny. Andrew works so hard to be the best and he is willing to sacrifice for it. Why the teacher pushes his students to challenge their limits? Look closely at the end of Andrew’s blind ambition and Fletcher’s madness, the two forge an odd relationship. Then we will notice how the odd teacher-student relationship works, I doubt it happens in reality though.

Second, the characters are lively, so I don’t know who the best protagonist in this film is. Miles Teller and J.K.Simmons both did great a job in this film. J.K.Simmons won a best supporting actor Oscar and others, and he really portrayed the ruthless, brutal teaching style. I was scared of him, the whole time while I was watching the movie. Miles Teller played the young and dedicated student naturally, who had ambition to succeed and to be great. Watching him play, I thought about his blind ambition, which kept him strong, on the other hand played a huge role of destroying his normal life. They showed a really bad model of teacher-student relationship which made me lose myself in the story. It was stellar.

Lastly, Fletcher says “There are no two words in the English more harmful than ‘good job’”. This idea drives his students to excellence or despair by constantly abusing them, their talent, even their identity. In fact as a teacher, I have moments to tell students truth about themselves or their work; however it is a tiny part of my job. Teachers should spend most of their time to encourage students enhance their abilities and potential power. There are better models for teacher-student relationships in our real world, and this movie reminds us of them.

I can strongly recommend this movie because it is well made, the plot is intriguing and the characters are lively. That is why I got immersed in this film, and I was frightened about what Fletcher did to Andrew the whole time while watching it. This film reminds me of my youth and thoughts about blind ambition, teacher-student relationship and society. Therefore I am sure that you can enjoy this film with clenched fists.

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