Jazz thriller Whiplash, which earned the nickname “Full Metal Jacket at Juilliard” for its brutal portrayal of a music teacher’s bullying, has become a surprise hit with film critics and audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
But the story of an ambitious young drummer driven to the edge of insanity by his teacher’s methods has failed to strike a chord with jazz aficionados angered by its “warped view” of the music they love.
It was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival last year, winning the Grand Jury and Audience prizes, while JK Simmons is favourite for best supporting actor at the Oscars for his portrayal of the teacher.
Yet dissenting voices have emerged from jazz lovers who claim it caricatures the music, makes mistake with playing techniques and fails to show the joy of the form.
Oscars 2015 nominations
Oscars 2015 nominations
1/28 Birdman - 10 nominations
Academy Award nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone), Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Original Screenplay, Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
2/28 The Grand Budapest Hotel - 10 nominations
Academy Award nominated for Best Director (Wes Anderson), Best Picture, Film Editing, Production Design, for Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design, Cinematography, Original Screenplay, Original Score
3/28 The Imitation Game - 8 nominations
Academy Award nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actor ( Keira Knightley) Best Director (Morten Tyldum), Film Editing, Production Design, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score
4/28 American Sniper - 6 nominations
Oscar nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Adapted Screenplay
5/28 Boyhood - 6 nominations
Academy Award nominated for Best Picture, Actress in Supporting role (Patricia Arquette) Film Editing, Best Director (Richard Linklater), Original Screenplay
6/28 Whiplash - 5 nominations
Academy Award nominated for Best Picture, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Adapted Screenplay
7/28 The Theory of Everything - 5 nominations
Oscar nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Best Actress (Felicity Jones), Adapted Screenplay, Original Score
Working Title Films
8/28 Foxcatcher - 5 nominations
Oscar nominated for Best Director (Bennett Miller), Best Actor (Steve Carrell), Original Screenplay, Makeup and Hairstyling
9/28 Selma - 2 nominations
Oscar nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song
10/28 Mr Turner
Oscar nominated for Production Design, Costume Design, Cinematography, Original Score
Reese Witherspoon is Oscar-nominated for best actress in a leading role and Laura Dern is nominated for best supporting actress
12/28 Two Days, One Night
Marion Cotillard has been nominated in the best actress category
Oscar nominated for Original Screenplay
14/28 Gone Girl
Rosamund Pike is Oscar nominated for best actress in a leading role
Twentieth Century Fox
Nominated for Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Production Design, Sound Mixing, Original Score
16/28 Still Alice
Best actress in a leading role nomination for Julianne Moore
17/28 The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies
Oscar nominated for Sound Editing
18/28 Into The Woods
Oscar nominated for Production Design, Costume Design, Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep)
19/28 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Robert Redford and Chris Evans film is nominated for Special Effects
20/28 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Nominated for an Oscar in the Visual Effects category
20th Century Fox
21/28 The Lego Movie
Oscar nominated for best song 'Everything Is Awesome' but snubbed in best animation category
22/28 X-Men, Days of the Future Past
Oscar nominated in the Visual Effects category
Alan Markfield / 2013 Marvel & Subs / 20th Century Fox Film Corp.
23/28 Begin Again
Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo in Begin Again which is Oscar nominated for best original song
24/28 Guardians Of The Galaxy
Nominated for Visual Effects, for Makeup and Hairstyling
Oscar nominated for Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography
26/28 How To Train Your Dragon 2
Oscar nominated for Animated Feature Film
Oscar nominated for Costume Design
© Disney Enterprises, Inc.
28/28 Inherent Vice
Oscar nominated for Adapted Screenplay
The attack was led by The New Yorker’s Richard Brody. “The movie’s very idea of jazz is a grotesque and ludicrous caricature,” he said, adding it “has no music in its soul”. Respected critic JR Jones of the Chicago Reader said people who love music may find the film “faintly offensive”.
Jon Newey, editor of magazine Jazzwise, told The Independent that he understood those views: “There are factual misrepresentations in the film. It is a warped, retrogressive portrayal of jazz and big band cutting sessions.”
The story follows Andrew Neiman, 19, as he pursues his dream at an elite conservatory. There he meets jazz ensemble leader Terence Fletcher, who will stop at nothing to realise Neiman’s potential.
It has more in common with An Officer and a Gentleman than it does with jazz movies such as Lady Sings the Blues or Bird, Mr Newey said. “It’s about bullying, not jazz. Jazz’s portrayal in the film is a little frustrating... I hope it doesn’t put people off because jazz has a tough enough fight as it is. We’re always trying to get young people in.”
Damien Chazelle, the film’s writer and director, was a jazz drummer in high school, and said he had a teacher with similar traits to Fletcher. He said in an interview that jazz was a “very hostile type of music”.
But Mark Fletcher, a regular drummer at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club since the 1980s, dubbed the film “hazz education, gone Hollywood”.
“Some, not all, of the drumming is awful… adequate at best. They seem confused ... knowing all the line-ups and the chronology of classic jazz recordings does not make you a jazz musician,” he said. “Jazz isn’t just a ‘genre’ it’s a lifestyle, nay, a life-form..”Reuse content