Music and Painting at the Movies

Beni Jurion, Editor-In-Chief

Master and disciple. The movie “Whiplash”, directed by Damien Chazelle tells of the battle between the two forces, creating a musical masterpiece with hints of a sports movie, a horror movie and a psychological drama. Similar to that of many sport movies, “Whiplash” tells the story of an ambitious young “athlete” in his craft and a difficult mentor. Additionally, there are montages of grueling practices and tense competition, building to a moment of a hugely suspenseful “championship” game. In “Whiplash”, Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), is a jazz drummer enrolled at a highly selective musical school in New York and taught under the charismatic but terrifying Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Similar to that of a drill instructor, Fletcher calls his students by their surnames, humiliates them, and constantly psychology abuses them. Simmons dominates each scene he is in with sadism, sarcasm, and humiliation. Director Chazzelle also gives “Whiplash” the brooding and spooky look of a horror movie, turning New York and the school into a realm of darkness and oppression through many close emotional shots. Simmons prowls the screen with a near vampire-like stalk and half-smile, he constantly swivels from charming to a violent rage. Through the entire movie, Teller literally puts blood, sweat, and tears in his drumming education and strive towards excellence. The editing of the movie is spectacularly matched with the film’s jazz rhythms and stunning drum solos leading to even more “hold-your-breath” moments. “Whiplash” is a movie that redefines the classic sport movie by adapting it into a musical setting, while also including a brutal energy made possible by incredible performances by Miles Teller and J.K Simmons.

Rating: 9/10

While Julian Schnabel did make a heartfelt, straightforwardly reverent film about the last several years of Vincent Van Gogh (William Dafoe), “At Eternity’s Gate” ultimately falls a bit flat despite a great performance. Dafoe’s performance in this film is as great as any other film featuring the actor.
The film strikes the ecstatic immersion in the moments in which Van Gogh painted. The cinematography is fantastic, with the dynamic usage of a near “hand-held” camera style of filming, visual stimulation with lighting with yellow, which is both beautiful but also equally signifies churning madness, as it grows throughout Van Gogh’s life, and the magnificent piano orchestral chords from the movie’s soundtrack, reminiscing that of an organ.
However, for all the feverish visual immersion, there is sluggishness in the storytelling that seems at odds with the feverish creativity of the film’s subject. Like Van Gogh’s mental state, the film loses itself in the rural South of France that at the same time loses the audience’s attention. Regardless, the film is saved through strong, valuable and emotional performance Dafoe, which was captured by Schnabel, and creative cinematography.

Rating: 6/10