Thursday, December 18, 2014

A movie that's full of drumming and utterly devoid of sex, and that's where the parallel with my high school years ends.

You know what’s cool about being in the DGA? Christmas. This time of year I get screeners for a ton of movies that are hoping to be considered for awards. 

I know, right?

A couple of nights ago I dropped Whiplash into the DVD player. It's a story about a young musical student (played by Miles Teller) and his relationship with an abusive teacher (played by JK Simmons, who must have had a blast with the role because he gets to be a completely glorious asshole).

The fact that I’m singling out this movie might lead you to believe that this is an attempt to influence the voting. Nope. A lot of good films came out this year and I’m going to leave it to the Academy to decide whether Whiplash happens to be the best of them.

The reason I’m bringing it up is because it does something I’ve never seen before. Both the protagonist and the antagonist are pursuing the exact same thing. 


The two characters tell you (by way of actions and dialogue with other characters) exactly what they intend to accomplish and the lengths they’re willing to go to accomplish it, so the movie doesn’t even have to fall back on a “surprise” reveal to justify their actions.

From a story point of view, that’s an extraordinary thing to pull off. And I happen to think it does. Despite both characters’ single-minded determination (see my post from June 5, 2009 about that) to achieve said goal, the film is able to create and elevate the conflict all the way through to an ending that’s simultaneously surprising, satisfying, and totally, perfectly, completely inevitable.  

Okay, I lied. I would like to influence the voting. Members of the Academy, take a look at the dramatic structure of this story. And consider nominating Damien Chazelle for Best Screenplay.