Tag Archives: MIles Teller

Whiplash (2014)

One of the dark horses in the Oscar race this year, Whiplash has been wowing critics all over, with particularly praise going to J.K. Simmons performance. But will it have the same effect on me?

Andrew (Miles Teller) is a first year student at a prestigious music school. After hearing him play one evening, conductor Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) accepts him as a drummer for his band. However Fletcher’s methods for conducting his students are unconventional to say the least and physically and emotionally abusive at worse. As Andrew strives to prove to Fletcher he’s the best drummer he has to decide whether Fletcher’s tactics work and at what cost?

It’s not often I see a movie that I can’t get out of head for days after I’ve seen it but Whiplash is one such film. Writer/Director Damien Chazelle has made a movie that could possibly become a modern classic. It is that good.

That’s not to say that Whiplash is an easy film to watch. At times Fletcher was so horrible to his students that I was covering my eyes like I do in a horror film. Whilst categorised as a drama film, I’ve seen comparisons to sports movies, and I can see the similarities. The ongoing battle between Fletcher and Andrew can feel like a boxing match, with Fletcher constantly displaying his dominance and Andrew just doing his best not to get knocked out entirely. At times the movie can be pretty funny too, there’s a lot of dark humour here. What I also liked was that the film provokes a lot of discussion and debate about the methods Fletcher uses. He seems to be of the end-justifies-the-means school of thought, but doesn’t seem to care about the repercussions of what he does to his students. And if he does happen to produce a genius from his methods does that make what he does ok? I don’t think so, but I can imagine others may see it differently.

It’s no wonder that J.K. Simmons won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. After spending years in the background in small character roles Simmons finally gives a wider audience a chance to show what he can do. Fletcher is at times monstrous but Simmons never hams it up. The character is grounded, he feels terrifyingly real. Like the worst teacher you’ve ever had multiplied by a thousand. Yet at times we see a softer side to him. You’re never quite sure whether he is being genuine and that makes for an interesting antagonist.

While I’m glad that J.K. Simmons has been getting a lot of deserved praise it’s a shame that Miles Teller has been rather neglected this award season, however he has been nominated for the BAFTA Rising Star Award so at least he has not been completely ignored. Teller plays the part of Andrew just right. At times he is the victim and at other times a self-entitled brat that treats his girlfriend (Melissa Benoist – soon to be Supergirl in a new tv series). You can really see Teller putting everything into his performance as Andrew fights blood, sweat and tears (literally) to keep up with Fletcher’s demands.

Is it a perfect film? Maybe not. The anecdote about Charlie Parker that Fletcher uses as his reason for why he pushes his students so far has been long been discredited. Also if you prefer a film about nice, likeable people, this isn’t one of them. And if it were, it would be a far less interesting and compelling movie for it.

Rating 5/5 – a brilliant movie with two leads who spar off each other perfectely

16 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Divergent

I just reviewed The Mortal Instruments the other day and now I’ve watched another movie aimed at the lucrative young adult market. But will Divergent -also based on a popular book series-be any better?

In a future dystopian Chicago 16-year-old Tris (Shailene Woodley) is preparing to choice one of five fraction of society to join, Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). When she takes the test to determine her fraction, Tris discovers that she is Divergent-meaning she has qualities belonging to more than one fraction. Being Divergent means her life is in danger and she must protect her secret at all cost.

So it’s no Hunger Games but compared to The Mortal Instruments, Divergent is a masterpiece. Woodley is the main reason why this movie works. She is likeable, sympathetic and interesting to watch. With this and The Fault In Our Stars Woodley is surely becoming a name to watch. She has great chemistry with co-star Theo James, as Dauntless instructor Four (stupid name though). The only thing is that Woodley looks about 12 while James looks like he’s pushing 30 which makes some of their scenes a bit uncomfortable. The supporting characters are mostly forgettable or interchangeable, the only stand outs are Zoe Kravitz as Tris’ brutally honest friend Christina and in particular Miles Teller as Peter, a fellow dauntless transfer determined to make Tris’ life hell.

Most of the problems I had with the film is the same as I had with the book. The Dauntless, the fraction Tris chooses (not a spoiler) their definitive quality is meant to be brave but it comes across more as stupid. They throw themselves off of trains, the transfers are made to beat each other up to, all to prove how tough they are. I wouldn’t trust them to be bouncers of a club never mind protect a whole city. The whole notion of fractions and Divergent is a bit silly as well. After all how many people are determined by one quality, people are a mixture of many different strengths and weaknesses.

Although it’s understandable for the age rating, but I was disappointed that some of the violence from the book is missing, particularly Peter’s violent attack on a rival transfer. I was also a bit distracted by the fact that Tris’ brother Caleb was played by Ansel Elgort, Woodley’s co-star and love interest in The Fault In Our Stars. It could have done with being a bit shorter with the running time. But all in all it’s an entertaining movie that will leave you wanting to know what happens next.

Rating 3/5 – a star turn from Woodley makes this new teen franchise worth watching

 

15 Comments

Filed under Reviews

That Awkward Moment

Romantic comedies have had something of a facelift of recent years, with studios feeling the pressure to appeal to both male and female comedies (becuase girls are only interested in rom-coms about shoes and getting married obviously-but thats another post).  So with that in mind That Awkward Moment aims to appeal to both sexes, with a look at bromances and plenty of nudity and sex alongside the romance. But will this tactic work, and more importantly be funny? 

When their friend Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) find outs his wife wants  a divorce, his best pals Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) make a pact to stay single with him. However soon all three are left in complicated romantic entaglements that threaten their quest for singlehood.

You can probably tell from the synopisis whether or not this will be your type of film. On the positive side, the bromance between the three guys works, which is good as a lot of time is spent in their company, and the three leads make a believeable group of friends. Their respective romances meanwhile has mixed results.

Although there were some chemsitry between Jason (Efron) and Ellie (Imogine Potts) and their romance had some sweet and funny moments, the main problem is that Jason is a major douche. I just didn’t think Ellie should accept Jason back after he blows her off when she really needs him. It was bad enough he mistook her for a prostitute (in one of the many moments that don’t come across as believeable) after they first slept together, are we really meant to believe she would then take him back for something even more unforgiveable later? He would have to work a lot harder than that.

Luckily the other two guys were more likebale with Mikey being the most sympathetic of the three and Daniel being probably the funniest. In fact I was more invested with Daniel’s relationship with gal pal Chelsea (Mckensie Davis) than with Jason and Ellie. While you really feel for Mikey as he gets messed around by his ex wife and struggles to get bakc into the dating world, his situation with his wife is a bit predictable and doesn’t really go anywhere that interesting.

Sometimes the script has a tendancy to replace comedy and character development with crude jokes about sex and hopes that no one will notice. It’s this overeliance which may alienate some viewers. It feels at times that the filmakers were not confident enough with its talented cast and kept putting in the dick jokes just in case.

I expect my opinion will be in the minority as I’ve seen this film get a lot of hate since it’s been released, and yes it’s not particularly original or mind-blowingly hilarious. However for me, That Awkward Moments does have enough funny set peieces and one liners to stop it slipping into just another crude, witless comedy.

Rating 3/5-a fun if not hugely original or realistic take on modern relationships

13 Comments

Filed under Reviews