Whiplash -- "Svengali Porn" -- An Essay

December 1, 2014 10:01 PM

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I remain, a week following the experience of Whiplash (the picture can't just be watched), flummoxed. Awash in critical praise, Whiplash has definitely hit a chord with many people, but I ask what the director, Damien Chazelle, was actually going for in his "masterwork." And I do say that with an irony both literal and figurative, as the actual plot (not just theme) concerns the high-jinx perpetuated by a music instructor who appeared to be out either to enhance or destroy the potential greatness possessed by a talented student.

The conductor, Fletcher (a wittily cast J.K. Simmons), has set his sights on the conspicuously gifted drummer, Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller). He proceeds to mess with Teller's head and hands so deeply that the drummer, in an effort to be the next Buddy Rich, endures more humiliation and emotional vio...

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