Rated 4.0

In the propulsive and persistent Whiplash, writer-director Damien Chazelle takes a trope familiar to sports movies and boot camp films—the imperious coach/drill sergeant who horsewhips a raw but promising athlete/soldier into shape—and drops it into an East Coast music conservatory. Miles Teller gives another strong performance as Andrew, a hyperdriven jazz drummer languishing in second chair. Andrew catches the eye of Fletcher, the martinet conductor of the school's most prestigious band, a black-clad, fire-breathing demon played by J.K. Simmons. Fletcher torments his student musicians with a level of vile emasculation unseen since R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket (“weepy willow shitstack” is one of Fletcher's least offensive invectives), and Andrew endures the abuse in order to pursue greatness. Teller and Simmons don't cut corners, even when the script does, and while Chazelle frequently seems to be fetishizing sadism, the lightning-fast tempo forgives a few off-key notes.