Category Archives: ET

Whiplash: Perfect Trio…

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‘Whiplash’ deals with controversial themes…and explores extreme angles of a relationship between a music student and his teacher. How hard an aspiring musician should try for perfection and how hard a teacher can and should push to spot and hone greatness in his disciples….these are a couple of questions that linger in the mind, while watching the film. But, from a cinematic experience, the film is pure joy, with a superb cast making it all believable.

JK Simmons (Fletcher-Teacher) and Miles Tiller (Neiman-Student) compliment each other very well and hold the film together to make sure it doesn’t slip out of the audience belief zone. Mike Tiller displays the range of emotions perfectly, as his character goes through a seesaw of feelings …in quick succession. Worth mention is the initial change in his feelings when Fletcher plays with his psyche, with a bit of unexpected praise and following it up with a chair thrown at full speed.

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But ‘Whiplash’ can never be the movie it turned out to be without JK Simmons and he deserves the Oscar every bit of it. Right from the word go, he is unpredictability at its best, which is the core of this character. He has to be both unpredictable and believable at that very moment and he pulls it off with elan.  He keeps the audience guessing as to what his real motives are….and that becomes the driving force of the screenplay.  Worth mention is the scene in the restaurant with Neiman just before the climax, getting him to accept as a drummer in his upcoming programme. It’s tough to be nice without showing any motive and that too after a sonofabitch portrayal he had shown until that point of time and he does it effortlessly.

Of course, Whiplash couldn’t have been possible without the director Damien Chazelle. To conceive and execute such an offbeat story is an extraordinary feat and in the process creates a music-based film that compares with the classic ‘Amadeus’. Interestingly the love-hate relationship of the student-teacher in Whiplash is a tad similar to that of  Salieri-Mozart. In ‘Amadeus’ Salieri’s struggle is more internalized and only comes out as narration…whereas in ‘Whiplash’ it is brought out in several scenes, with ambiguity thrown in, for the sake of driving the plot.

Like any good movie, the heart of the film lies in its climax. All three–Damien Chazelle, JK Simmons and Miles Tiller leave their best to the last. It’s a unique set-up and a mini-movie by itself. If you decide to watch just a portion of the film then this has to be it. And after watching it, there are quite a few takeaways…and it is up to you to pick the version you like. I for one would like to think that Fletcher found both his genius and nemesis.

Related links:

Laksh online on Amadeus

Game Of Thrones: How They Make the World’s most Popular Show

Two middleweight novelists, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, had come to a similar conclusion and obtained Martin’s blessing at what the author calls “that famous lunch that turned into a dinner, because we were there for four or five hours” in 2006. The two writers thought Thrones could only be made as a premium-cable drama, and they walked into HBO’s office with an ambitious pitch to do so that year. “They were talking about this series of books I’d never heard of,” says Carolyn Strauss, head of HBO’s entertainment division at the time. “[I was] somebody who looked around the theater in Lord of the Rings, at all of those rapt faces, and I am just not on this particular ferry … I thought, This sounds interesting. Who knows? It could be a big show.”

HBO bought the idea and handed the reins to Benioff and Weiss, making them showrunners who’d never run a show before. Benioff was best known for having adapted his novel The 25th Hour into a screenplay directed by Spike Lee. Weiss had a novel to his credit too. The two had met in a literature program in Dublin in 1995 and later reconnected in the States. “I decided I wanted to write a screenplay,” Benioff told Vanity Fair in 2014. “I’d never written a script before, and I didn’t know how to do it, so I asked [Weiss] if he would write one with me, because he had written a bunch already.” It never got made.

More at TIME

‘Inside Out': It’s about the mind, stupid!

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There’s a scene in the movie, when joy and sadness…rather the symbols of joy and sadness are together.  Both of them try to figure it out…. how to save the main character from going downhill.

Simple at its best, this scene might have a thousand meanings and find an echo in several religions and schools of philosophy. The lead to this scene though , is not some maudlin train of thought about life, instead thy are the inner workings of the main character’s mind.. .a small kid’s mind. Yes, Pixar team does this unthinkable of making a child’s mind the center stage of a movie,  to a delightful effect.

‘Inside Out’ has all  the trappings of a wonderful animation film–great quality of animation, terrific characters, super voice-casting etc etc.  But the real deal, is the story idea that blends science with emotion. All the concepts of core-memories, personality islands, memory dump, imagination land, dream factory, dark sub-conscious, train of thought, abstract thoughts etc are presented in an entertaining manner.  A must watch for any movie lover.

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Tailpiece: Bing Bong is probably one of the best Hero characters ever, a-la terminator willing to slip into oblivion to protect her little friend.

Related Links
‘Take her to the moon for me’
Inside Out: a crash course in PhD philosophy of self that kids will get first
The Science of ‘Inside Out’
How ‘Inside Out’ Explains The Science Of Memory