Whiplash. 2014. USA. Directed by Damien Chazelle. 106 min.
Damien Chazelle’s thrillingly propulsive drama, about an aspiring jazz drummer at (a thinly disguised) Juilliard, was a sensation at the Cannes, Sundance, and New York film festivals, confirming Chazelle as a true filmmaker to watch, Miles Teller as an actor whose star has officially risen, and Tom Cross as a ferociously talented editor. Eschewing the clichés of bohemian jazz life, Chazelle instead depicts music conservatory training as predatory cage match, the protégé bowed and bloodied, but unbeaten, as he goes up against his formidably imposing conductor-taskmaster (a hilariously caustic J. K. Simmons). Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.