We’ve all had an insane teacher, right? I know I have. Those people that push you really, really hard, scream at you, and bring you to your boiling point. And then, when it’s all over, you look back and realize, “Holy shit, I am better at this thing now because of how hard they pushed me.” Whiplash is like that, but dialed up to eleven. J.K. Simmons plays an instructor at a prestigious music school, who is trying to push his student, Miles Teller, to become the next big jazz musician. Teller tries to live up to Simmons’ impossible standards. He practices his drumming until his fingers bleeds, he deprives himself of sleep, he breaks up with his girlfriend, and he endures hours of torture just to please his instructor. But there’s a fine line between pushing for greatness and going too far. Simmons ends up crossing the line, taking the hazing to lunatic levels. While you watch this movie, you simultaneously cringe in fear in anticipation of Simmons’ next tirade, and you watch with rapt attention, hoping that Teller will win his accolades. Simmons is in a league of his own with a phenomenal acting presence here. He absolutely deserved every award he won for this role. This was a phenomenal movie, and one we can all relate to on some level.
Silver Linings Playbook
This is a movie about damaged people, but it manages to be fun and uplifting at the same time. Hollywood almost always gets the medical field wrong, and the psychiatric field gets the shortest end of the stick. This movie manages to get things kind of right, at least more right than most Hollywood movies. Bradley Cooper plays a Bipolar guy who refuses to take his meds, and Jennifer Lawrence plays a girl with raging Borderline Personality Disorder. They freak out and clash with each other, and are as dysfunctional as one would expect given their diagnoses. Even so, they work together, and through teamwork (and love *facepalm*) they get better. The hokiest part was that they find happiness THROUGH THE POWER OF DANCE! I JUST GOTTA DANCE YOU GUYS! which is a bit too cliché for my tastes. The acting was pretty good, though.