Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons in Jazz Drama

October 9, 2014 9:00 PM

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Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) lives to play jazz drums, and at 19, he’s the youngest drummer in the vaunted “Studio Band” at New York City’s Juilliard-like Shaffer Conservatory of Music. Little problem: the bandleader, 50-something teacher Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), runs the outfit like a sadistic Master Sergeant’s boot camp. When Andrew ever-so-slightly screws up in a rehearsal of Hank Levy’s “Whiplash,” a very complex composition with a 7/4 beat, Fletcher tosses a chair at him. He makes castrating jokes about Andrew’s father and mother. He slaps the boy, hard. Andrew wants to be “one of the greats,” and he might mature from a promising musician into an exceptional one — if he can just survive Fletcher’s tough love.

A hit at Sundance and the Toronto Film Festival, where it was nicknamed Full Metal Drum Kit, Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash adds welcome flavor to the fall movie season, like Raisinettes sprinkled on a tub of popcorn. Directing with a cool, steady hand that renounces shaky-cam the way Fletcher would den...

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