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Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash (2014)
2014 | Drama
Acting, music (0 more)
Limited storyline (0 more)
This movie introduces us to newcomer Miles Teller as a high school drummer under the guidance of maniacal music teacher who thinks nothing of shredding pupils confidence in themselves as an excuse to get the best out of them with sometimes grave consequences as they are pushed to the very edge, not to be missed.
  
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Anna Calvi recommended Whiplash (2014) in Movies (curated)

 
Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash (2014)
2014 | Drama

"This is about what a music student who really wants to be great has to sacrifice to pursue greatness. It reminded me a little of my own experience at university, and how there’s such a difference between studying music, which is quite sterile, and then actually going out and doing it. You have to unlearn everything and just try to be honest, using your instrument to speak in a way that people can understand. Andrew’s (Miles Teller) relationship with his music teacher in the film is very extreme, but I had music teachers at school who I felt really passionate about and who I wanted to get better for, so they would believe in me."

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Daniel Boyd (1065 KP) rated Bleed For This (2016) in Movies

Aug 11, 2017 (Updated Oct 25, 2017)  
Bleed For This (2016)
Bleed For This (2016)
2016 | Drama, Sport
8
7.1 (9 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Incredible true story (4 more)
Eckhart & Teller are brilliant in the lead performances
The supporting cast are great too
Tight script
Good direction
One Of The Most Remarkable Comebacks In History
If this movie wasn't based in true events, it would be ridiculed for being too far fetched. Don't get me wrong, I am sure that, (as is with the case with all movies based on a 'true' story,) some aspects of the film have been exaggerated for dramatic purposes, but even still, this is an incredible story about triumph over adversity.
The cast are all great, Miles Teller at this point is up there with Christian Bale and Jake Gyllenhaal as a young character actor at the top of his game in my eyes. He is fantastic as Pazienza and does a brilliant job conveying the pain and tragedy that Vinnie faced and the 'nothing will stop me,' attitude that Vinnie possessed. Aaron Eckhart goes from Hollywood heart-throb, to past his prime shlub in this role and he sells it convincingly, he truly is one of the most underrated character actors working today in my opinion.
The rest of the ensemble cast are great. The production is also of an immensely high quality, the sets, sound design and abrupt editing all make up an equally grim and glamorous world that feels realistic and lived in.
Overall this film is definitely worth a watch, whether you are a boxing fan or not, it is a hugely inspirational story that has been brought to life masterfully and is a story that should be witnessed by everybody.
  
Spiderhead (2022)
Spiderhead (2022)
2022 | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
6
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Weak Script Sinks This Flick
The history of cinema is littered with tales of the Mad Scientist who gets too caught up in their own experiments to the detriment of all. Once the human cost of the experiment is revealed to this seemingly sane inventor, he (it usually is a he) turns with a wild-eyed look and justifies the human expense in the name of science.

Such is the case with the Netflix Original movie SPIDERHEAD with Chris Hemsworth as the mad scientist in this scenario and Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett as 2 of the prisoners who trade in their life sentences to be used as guinea pigs in his experiment.

It’s an interesting enough premise - one that is not new - so it is always the execution of this concept that makes (or breaks) this type of film.

Unfortunately for SPIDERHEAD, Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are unable to elevate the premise (based on a short story by George Saunders) into anything new, unique or interesting.

Director Joseph Kosinski (TOP GUN: MAVERICK) does a yeoman’s job trying to elevate this material to something better than it is. But…kind of like trying to get me to be a Prima Ballerina…Kosinski just cannot make something out of raw material that is fundamentally flawed. He uses a few interesting camera moves and draws out suspense in enough areas to catch the audience’s interests…but not much else.

He is helped by the casting of some top notch talent. Chris Hemsworth is engaging and charismatic (initially) as the Elon Musk/Steve Jobs-esque new age inventor who is trying out some new medical serums on prisoner/volunteers. The problem with Hemsworth - who I think is a pretty good actor - is that once you start seeing the cracks in his character’s façade (and those cracks appear early on), Hemsworth’s performance turns fairly one-dimensional and he becomes a caricature of the “crazed scientist”.

The surprises to me here are the performances of Miles Teller (TOP GUN: MAVERICK) and Jurnee Smollett (LOVECRAFT COUNTRY). These are 2 performers who I’ve always felt were good but not great, but they are intriguing to watch in this. They have strong chemistry with each other and they are 2 protagonists that are easy to root for against crazed antagonist Hemsworth.

In look and feel and tone, this film reminded my of the 2014 Alex Garland marvel EX MACHINA, but where that film easily was lifted by a tremendously strong script and ideas by Garland (check it out if you haven’t seen it - it is well worth your time), SPIDERHEAD, ultimately, sinks into the chasm of a weak script with no real strong ideas/themes behind it.

Letter Grade B+ (for the Direction of Kosinksi and the performances of Teller and Smollett)

6 stars (out of 10) and you can take that to the Bank(ofMarquis)
  
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J.K. Simmons recommended Whiplash (2014) in Movies (curated)

 
Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash (2014)
2014 | Drama

"A little Whiplash anecdote is, of course, like everybody else, I had no idea who Damien Chazelle was. Jason Reitman was the one who sent me the script, in an email, for Whiplash. He sent me both the short and the feature script and just said, “Read this,” and obviously it’s from Jason so I’m gonna read it. It was again, obviously, probably one of the most brilliant scripts I had ever read and one of the best fits in terms of the character that I really immediately understood and felt like I could wrap my brain around and pull off. They said, “The writer-director would love to meet you,” and we set up a lunch, and Damien and I sat down and immediately basically agreed on everything, except he didn’t know that I had a musical background, so he was talking about how we’d have body doubles and we’d have somebody coaching me on how to wave my arms around like a conductor. And I said, “Hey, we don’t need that because actually, that’s one of the arrows I have in my quiver.” That was one of those moments where it felt like kismet, that Damien was like, “Oh, my God.” He said, “When Jason and Helen suggested you for this part, I immediately thought that’s a great idea, but I had no idea that you actually had those kinds of abilities.” And also, he didn’t write the script for me, but he wrote it with Miles Teller in mind from the beginning, and didn’t know that Miles had been playing drums since he was 15 years old."

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Bleed For This (2016)
Bleed For This (2016)
2016 | Drama, Sport
9
7.1 (9 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Bleed for This is the true story of boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller). Vinny is the type of person that in and out of the ring goes all out to the point he can go no further. This mindset puts him on the verge of being out of boxing after losing three straight fights, which he drastically cuts weight to fight. As he searches for one last chance, he is paired with a new trainer, Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart), who is also seemingly given his last chance to revive his career. Rooney sets out to change the way Vinny trains and convinces him that fighting at a heavier weight will help his body, he previously was taking drastic measures to cut weight for fights. The pair are committed to success even with Vinny’s head strong father’s (Angelo Pazienza played by Ciarán Hinds) disapproving of the change, his mother (Louise Pazienza played by Katey Sagal) not wanting Vinny to get hurt, and his own Manager (Lou Duva played by Ted Levine) saying he should quit boxing all together. After some convincing and a lot of hard work Vinny gets his chance at one last fight. But he is moving up two weight classes and is put into a title fight against a seasoned opponent. Vinny shocks seemingly everyone by overcoming these obstacles and knocking out his favored opponent to become a World Champion.

After the biggest win of his career when everything appears to be going Vinny, his families and Rooney’s way, there is a terrible car accident and Vinny suffers a broken neck. The doctor tells him that he may never walk again, let alone box. With everyone telling him that his boxing career is over, Vinny is single-mindedly determined to do everything he can to get back into the ring. He opts to not have surgery in hopes that his neck can heal on its own and he can return to champion ship form. He has to convince Rooney to train him, find someone willing to fight him, and has to overcome his once over bearing father being unwilling be in his corner for the first time in his life. Even with a mountain of obstacles in his way, he begins his quest to get back into the ring and show everyone that he can do the impossible and regain his past form.

Writer and Director Ben Younger (Prime and Boiler Room) does an excellent job with this inspirational true story. The supporting cast provide solid performances, especial Eckhart and Hinds, but Miles Teller’s performance is what really makes this a fun film to watch. He really seemed to fit into this role really well. His performance was both compelling and fun. There were several times that the film showed actual old footage and footage just made to look old and you really couldn’t tell if it was Teller or the real Vinny Pazienza on the screen. I liked how the boxing sequences were not over dramatized, no mouth pieces flying across the ring, it looked like there was an effort to just keep them as true to the actual fights as possible. I also enjoyed the moments of comedy. For a story full of drama there was a good amount of well-timed comedy, mostly provided by Teller. Visually they did a good job of making the film feel like you were in late 80s and early 90s. There were a couple of slow scenes but overall the film flowed really well.

Overall this was a well done boxing genre movie. Good story, great acting performances and solid directing.
  
Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash (2014)
2014 | Drama
Whiplash makes for a painfully tense and terrifying learning experience that is nothing short of cinematic brilliance. It'll have you on the edge of your seat, with your heart still pounding even after it's over.
I believe that there’s a desire in all of us to achieve greatness. A deep, internal yearning for importance, respect, and acceptance. We want to be remembered and we want to fulfill a sense of purpose in our lives. For Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller), the central character in the 2014 Best Picture nominated film Whiplash, that desire is to be one of the all-time great jazz drummers. Of course, he knows that accomplishing such a goal will require a firmly fixed focus, an uncompromising dedication, and endless hours of practice. What he surely wasn’t expecting was to run into a teacher like Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who will stop at nothing in order to push his students to strive to be their very best. Whiplash makes for a painfully tense and terrifying learning experience that is nothing short of cinematic brilliance.

Andrew is a first-year student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory of Music in New York where the presence of their great head music conductor, Terence Fletcher, looms over everyone. Fletcher is well-known, respected, and feared. More importantly, he is their ticket to success as musicians. Landing a spot in his band is a coveted high honor. Earning his respect is even greater. Though under Fletcher’s guidance, success doesn’t come easy. He rules over the school like a maniacal dictator and he demands absolute perfection from his students. After all, he has a highly revered reputation to preserve, and he’s not about to let anyone jeopardize it. Andrew finds himself lucky enough to be chosen to rehearse with Fletcher’s band, but he’s soon tested, humiliated, abused, and pushed to the limit by his short-tempered instructor.

Already something of a loner, Andrew delves even deeper within due to pressure from his teacher, turning his passion for music into an unhealthy obsession. He cuts off contact with others and devotes himself entirely to practicing. With fingers bloodied from extensive drumming, he simply bandages them up and keeps at it. Not only is his music playing taking control of his life, but it’s also clearly taking a toll on his mental health. Even more troubling for Andrew is that no matter how hard he tries, Fletcher is never satisfied, and he torments his students until they get things right, even if it means practicing all night. Resentment and tension rapidly rise for Andrew as he approaches his breaking point, resulting in the film’s unforgettably tense conclusion.

Whiplash is no walk in the park. It will have you sitting on the edge of your seat in suspense and terror, with your heart still pounding even after it’s over. It’s an emotional horror for young Andrew who is put through Hell by his mad musical conductor. I was legitimately in fear for his life and sanity. While the movie has given me a greater respect for musicians, and jazz bands in particular, it sure makes me feel glad that I was never in band!

Whiplash is remarkable in its design and execution. The film’s cinematography shows a wonderfully adept eye for camera angles, and gives this low-budget film a distinguished look. The director revels in the closeness of the scene, putting us right alongside Andrew as he comes face-to-face with the ever-menacing Fletcher. It’s unbelievably tense and uncomfortable to watch while he’s being verbally and physically assaulted right before your eyes. The film’s Oscar-winning editing finds the right tempo with knowing when to cut and when to linger. It also expertly accompanies the music with its barrage of clear, fast-paced shots. Of course, Whiplash is also very respectful to its music sources, and it does an amazing job in showcasing the outrageous musical talent on display.

The performances from Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are sensational. It is estimated that roughly forty percent of the drumming you see by Andrew in Whiplash was actually performed by Teller. Considering the ridiculous amount of skill involved in these jazz band classics, that statistic should not be understated in the least. Teller puts on an incredible display and pours his heart into this movie. He carries the film, appearing in every single scene, and makes for a believable transition of character under the strict discipline of Fletcher. Even more extraordinary is J.K. Simmons, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor with this performance. Simmons injects his character with an intense ferocity that demands your attention. He terrorizes his musicians while conducting with an iron fist. Yet there’s far more to his character than just being a bully. While I disagreed with his abusive methods, I couldn’t argue against his intended result. His character’s extreme conduct will no doubt take things too far for some viewers, but despite all of his anger, I still found Fletcher to be remarkably fascinating. In the end, as deserving of hatred as he may be, I couldn’t help but feel some level of respect for him, and I think that really speaks to the quality of the film.

Whiplash is an emotionally stirring masterpiece that questions how much is too much when it comes to pushing someone to be their best. It also explores the emotional and psychological harm that can result from that level of pressure and abuse. The movie is bolstered by two tense and energetic performances from Miles and Simmons, who are deserving of all of their praise and accolades. You don’t have to be a fan of jazz music to enjoy this phenomenal film. I found the music to be intoxicating, but the real strength of the movie is the teacher and student dynamic between Andrew and Fletcher. With a diabolically delightful and brilliant ending, these two characters have achieved an esteemed level of movie greatness that make Whiplash a must-see!
  
Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash (2014)
2014 | Drama
Well, I must’ve done something to incur this kind of karma recently … My editors have been assigning me some excellent films this past month and this one is another on that string …

intensity, drive, and jazz combine to form the synopsis of this latest film. ‘Whiplash’ is a dramatic ‘jazz thriller’ which premiered at 2014 Sundance film festival back in January and instantly received several awards and critical acclaim before hit the theaters earlier this October.

Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, ‘Whiplash’ stars Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser, Jayson Blair, Austin Stowell, and Kavita Patil.

At a music conservatory where the competition could be compared to a ‘dog-eat-dog’ philosophy, Andrew Neyman (Teller) is a promising young drummer, willing to sacrifice his personal life and nearly everything else with his ultimate goal of becoming one of the great jazz drummers in memory. Having fallen under the eye of Terence Fletcher (Simmons), an almost insane and ruthless music conductor who notices the young music prodigy’s talent and becomes the drummer’s mentor.

Assigning Neyman as 2nd then 1st chair, Fletcher at first calmly nurtures the drummer prodigy but then pulls a complete 180 berating Neyman and very nearly assaulting him with a drum cymbal and reassigns him to 2nd chair. Later, at a jazz competition where the 1st chairs music was lost and Neyman ‘saves the day’ by playing the entire music set from memory Fletcher assigns him to 1st chair as a reward only to reassign him a few days later and replace him with another ‘supposed’ drummer prodigy. All the while, Neyman is devoting all his energies and thought to his drumming to the point of boarding on a nervous breakdown and injury …. even ending his relationship with his girlfriend. Throughout all these events Fletcher continues his villainous and tyrannical treatment of Neyman all in an effort to inspire him to realize his true potential …. the potential that Fletcher believes Neyman possess.

I mentioned ‘intensity’ and ‘drive’ at the beginning of this review …. Those two key words ….

are what this film created. The drive of Neyman and the intensity of his mentor Fletcher ….

Perhaps it’s the other way around? When the movie ends, you left with the same feeling you might imagine if you tried a 5 shot espresso. This film shows how much music (in this case jazz) can affect an individual. How anyone’s true passion can push someone beyond what is would be described as normal.

Teller and Simmons had the rare good fortunes as far as the casting in which they could both be the lead actors in this film where the intensity is magnified by the reaction of the other’s volatile attitude from one minute to the next. It was like watching a violent chemical reaction unfold in a science lab. You almost found yourself wanting to duck for cover when Neyman and Fletcher started fuming at each other. At the apex of this volatile relationship was the goal of realizing Neyman’s potential again, it was all about the drive and the intensity.

Despite the films praise, it has not been without criticism …. In recent edition of Slate, an internet culture and current affairs magazine, Forrest Wickman accused the film of distorting and misinterpreting an anecdote regarding legendary jazz composer and saxophonist Charlie Parker. Both main characters Fletcher and Neyman mention that drummer Jo Jones threw a cymbal at the teenaged Parker’s head as retaliation for Parker’s supposedly losing the beat of the composition they were performing in Count Basie’s band during a 1930s performance. According to Wickman, “Jones didn’t throw the cymbal at Parker’s head. He threw it at the floor near his feet, ‘gonging’ him off. It wasn’t an episode of physical abuse.” Jones was upset at Parker’s failure to change key with the rest of the band NOT losing the beat.

 

Alas, there is a an occurrence of the dreaded ‘artistic license’ in the film. And although it’s disappointing to see such an excellent film ‘alter history’ in order to better meld with the film’s script/premise the movie was so well done that I kind of let that slip by. If the performances by Teller and Simmons aren’t enough to convince you … At least go for the music! If you’re into ‘real’ jazz and not the ‘Starbucks Coffeehouse Crap’ that J.K. Simmons refers to in the film, then ‘Whiplash’ is definitely a film worth checking out. Definitely NOT one for the kids as there is A LOT of foul adult language in the film. Once again, I’m going to give this film 4 out of 5 stars.
  
Only The Brave (2017)
Only The Brave (2017)
2017 | Biography, Drama
Strong cast (0 more)
The movie drags a little and is too long (0 more)
A true story that deserved to be told
Only the Brave is based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots - the first ever municipal fire crew to be certified as Hotshots, which is the name given to the brave firefighters that tackle wildfires on the ground. It's another true story I wasn't aware of, and as with many of the others that have had movies made of them recently, it is just as deserving to be told. My appreciation of the movie, in particular how it all ended, was certainly improved based on the fact that I had no prior knowledge of the story.

Although, we do get to see a number of wildfires throughout the movie and get to fully appreciate the scale and danger that they present to both firefighters and residents in the path of destruction, Only the Brave never descends into an over-the-top disaster blockbuster. Instead, the movies main focus is often on the team of firefighter themselves, their family lives, and how they juggle all of that along with such an intensely demanding work life. At times though, this side of the movie doesn't work so well as we constantly meander through some of the less interesting parts of the lives of the crew, and I felt the whole movie could have benefited by shaving about 30 minutes from its run time. There's a great, all-star cast to help things along though - Josh Brolin is supervisor Eric Marsh, Miles Teller one of his rookies, and that's just the start of it. Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Connelly, and Andie MacDowell all feature in strong supporting roles.

Despite its slow start and extended run time, I definitely found Only the Brave an enjoyable and emotional story.
  
War Dogs (2016)
War Dogs (2016)
2016 | Comedy, Drama
The post-9/11 world changed how America conducted business and shaped our foreign relations. It also led to changes in how war was conducted and maintained. In War Dogs, we witness how companies of varying size were able to cash in on America’s need to supply their military and those of their allies as they continued their fight against terrorism and conducted nation-building. War Dogs follows the ill-fated careers of Efraim (Jonah Hill) and David (Miles Teller) as they aspire to cash in on the arms dealing frenzy that is unleashed by the US government. The film, based on actual events, gives its audience a glimpse into the problematic and perilous world of arms dealing. Efraim and David are confronted with international gangsters, bureaucratic “red tape,” and push their friendship to the limit as they pursue the goal of becoming wealthy by fulfilling government contracts.

War Dogs allows its viewers to have a greater understanding of how the government works and how businesses are competing with each other, to not only create a positive business relationship with “Uncle Sam,” but to become major players in an industry filled with companies and individuals who must suspend, amend, or terminate their moral code in order to become “merchants of death.” The film itself does a suitable job in telling the story of how these men form their own company from the ground up only to have it dismantled by mistrust, greed, and jealousy. War Dogs has its moments where you as a viewer envy the ability of these men to succeed in an industry that many would thumb their noses at out of disagreement with the war or adherence to their principles. We quickly see how money becomes a motivator for these friends as they pursue the opportunity to take on larger and more complex contracts in order to compete with the likes of Halliburton.