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Non-Review Review: Whiplash

The joy of Whiplash is in how the film subverts so many of the conventions of the “unconventional teacher pushes promising young student” subgenre. A one-sentence plot summary for the film suggest an inspirational and life-affirming tale. Andrew heads to a prestigious music school to hone his skills on the drums, and encounters an obnoxious and confrontational teacher who pushed him to his limits. One can already hear the applause, see the inevitable hug, feel the radiating mutual respect.

Whiplash carefully and meticulously subverts these expectations, avoiding many of the familiar plot beats that one might expect from a story like this. There’s a raw, gruelling honesty to the story – Whiplash is not a story calibrated or tailored to make the audience feel particularly comfortable or happy. Indeed, it addresses its central themes with a refreshing candidness. It asks some very tough questions about honing talent and the responsibilities of a teacher. It doesn’t offer any easy answers.

Anchored in two compelling central performances and a beautiful soundtrack, Whiplash builds to a beautifully cathartic climax, one that refuses to wrap too tight a bow around an intriguing little film.

Stick around...

Stick around…

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Non-Review Review: The Warriors (1979)

The Warriors remains something of a curiosity. Its cult stature has only grown in the three decades since its original release, and the sense of young urban disenfranchisement that director Walter Hill tapped into remains as potent as it ever it was. That said, the film remains a bit of puzzle, and it is never quite sure what to make of its protagonists. Does the movie want us to root for the wayward Warriors as they navigate the urban jungle in a quest to get back to Coney Island, or does it instead remain passively amoral amid all the violence and nihilism? It’s hard to really say, but it remains a potent piece of cinema.

“Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals…”

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