Opening February 19, 2015
Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Writing credits: Damien Chazelle
Principle actors: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang, Chris Mulkey, Damon Gupton
Passion is the driving force in Andrew’s (Teller) life. Attending a prestigious east coast music conservatory, his quest now is to win a spot in Fletcher’s jazz band. But the esteemed professor (Simmons), perfectionist personified with controversial teaching methods, is dogged about having an elite band. Finally invited, Andrew moves from alternative to core drummer, albeit under dubious circumstances. Dad (Reiser), not having achieved his dream, is supportive. Andrew thrives under Fletcher’s tutelage. Emboldened, he asks Nicole (Benoist) for a date; at a family dinner Andrew speaks out against cocky cousins startling his easygoing father. Andrew’s maniacal focus eventually excludes all else; Fletcher’s fixation is hell-bent on winning, “If you sabotage my band…” Each music competition is a life-or-death contest. An ultimate test of wills crescendo determines his destiny.
The film is electrifying, the acting duple rhythmic, the music refreshes and stimulates. Tension vibrates between the drums, dialogue and cuts escalating, decreasing but never stopping. Drawing on personal experience – practicing until his fingers bled, associating music with fear – writer/director Damien Chazelle wanted to delve deeper into the ambitious student–détraqué teacher symbiotic relationship. J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller’s mesmerizing performances epitomize the love-hate bond. Justin Hurwitz’s music, Tom Cross’ editing, and Sharone Meir’s cinematography never misses a beat. Audience jeering caused Kansas City’s Charlie Parker metamorphosis – “I’ll fix them cats”. A legend in his own lifetime, inspiring and adored, American jazz saxophonist ‘Bird’: "Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. … But, man, there's no boundary line to art." (Marinell H.)