Tag Archives: Damien Chazelle

Whiplash (2014) Review

Time: 168 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Offensive language and content that may disturb

Cast:
Miles Teller as Andrew Neiman
J. K. Simmons as Terence Fletcher
Paul Reiser as Jim Neiman
Melissa Benoist as Nicole
Director: Damien Chazelle

Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, in pursuit of rising to the top of his elite music conservatory. Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an instructor known for his terrifying teaching methods, discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into the top jazz ensemble, forever changing the young man’s life. But Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher pushes him to the brink of his ability and his sanity.

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I remember when I first saw Whiplash in early 2015, I had been hearing all of the hype and acclaim that it has been receiving and I figured I should watch it since it was being nominated for some awards. All I really knew going in was it was pretty much about a jazz drummer, with a somehow even grumpier J. Jonah Jameson being really mean as the jazz teacher. That’s what the mindset I had going into the movie, and I really didn’t know what to expect outside of that. I was not prepared for how phenomenally great this movie would be. Whiplash remains one of the most affecting movies I have ever seen and one of my most memorable movie experiences.

At an hour and 46 minutes in length, Whiplash is riveting from start to finish. I literally could not do anything else but watch until the movie had ended, and I can’t say that about too many movies. The idea about people being pushed (and pushing themselves) to perfection is definitely one of the most present ideas throughout the movie, and it’s really explored by both its main characters. It can be anxiety inducing and uncomfortable at points, however you just can’t look away, I just had to know how the everything would end. It also has one of the best third acts I have seen a film to date, so incredibly exhilarating, thrilling and satisfying. By the end I just felt very exhausted in the best way possible.

Miles Teller doesn’t get enough praise for his performance here, he’s often overshadowed by his co-star J.K. Simmons, who I’ll get to in a minute. Teller’s Andrew Neiman is not meant to necessarily be likable. However, you can still somewhat understand why he does the things that he does and you are right alongside him throughout his journey and change over the course of the movie. This is the best performance that Miles Teller has given in his career thus far and I do wish that more attention went towards his work here. When people usually think of Whiplash, even if they haven’t seen it themselves yet, they usually think of J.K. Simmons. His performance is outstanding and commands such an intimidating presence whenever he’s on screen. He can be extremely intense and scary when he flips out on people but he could be even funny at points. It’s for sure one of the most memorable supporting performances I’ve ever seen in a movie. Other supporting actors like Paul Reiser as Andrew’s father and Melissa Benoist as Andrew’s girlfriend also play their roles very well in their scenes.

Damian Chazelle directed this movie extremely well, it is so incredibly well edited and put together. The music naturally was fantastic, so well applied to the movie. While yes, the story itself is riveting, Whiplash wouldn’t work without Chazelle’s handle of the whole movie. It is a movie about Jazz and drumming, but Chazelle made all these scenes so incredibly entertaining and thrilling.

While 2014 was a year full of fantastic films with the likes of Interstellar, Birdman and Gone Girl, Whiplash is my favourite film of that year. It was completely riveting, and with Damien Chazelle’s phenomenal direction and writing, and fantastic performances from both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, I absolutely loved it. It’s been 4 years since I first saw the movie and the effect it had on me still hasn’t worn off. Chazelle would continue to make more films, with La La Land and First Man also being excellent films, and I can’t wait to see even more from him. However, Whiplash is still for me his best film to date.

First Man (2018) Review

Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong
Claire Foy as Janet Shearon
Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin
Pablo Schreiber as Jim Lovell
Jason Clarke as Ed White
Kyle Chandler as Deke Slayton
Christopher Abbott as David Scott
Patrick Fugit as Elliot See
Director: Damien Chazelle

A Biopic on the life of the legendary American Astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) from 1961-1969, on his journey to becoming the first human to walk the moon. Exploring the sacrifices and costs on the Nation and Neil himself, during one of the most dangerous missions in the history of space travel.

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First Man was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. Not only is it about Neil Armstrong landing on the moon and starring such actors as Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler and Corey Stoll, but it also is directed by Damien Chazelle. I’ve loved Chazelle’s last two films (Whiplash and La La Land), and he really showed a lot of talent with them. So naturally I was excited for First Man. While it wasn’t entirely what I was expecting, First Man was really great and one of my favourite films of the year.

There’s something that people need to know going in, this is about the titular first man, but it’s not all about Neil Armstrong landing on the moon, that aspect happens much later in the movie. For the most part, this movie is more about Armstrong than it is about the whole final moon landing. A lot of the movie is focussing on him testing and training to be on the moon. It also features his family life with his wife and children, and how what he does affects them as well. The reason why I mention all of this is because I think a lot of people might be going into First Man with a certain expectation (and it’s not unreasonable, the first thing you think about a Neil Armstrong is about him landing on the moon), and that could take away from their enjoyment or disappoint them a bit. I didn’t have a problem with the fact that this is what the movie is about. The movie can feel stretched out at times, and it wasn’t me being impatient waiting for the final moon landing part, it does legitimately feel long (and this is me when I’m already having an idea of what kind of movie this is) and the issue isn’t so much the length. The pacing can be a little uneven, sometimes perfectly paced in some parts, other times being a tad too slow. It’s not annoyingly slow at any point, but it does take away from the experience. The last act with the actual moon bit however, I’m pretty sure everyone will like regardless of what they think of the rest of the movie. First Man is 2 hours and 20 minutes long and you can really feel its length at times, however as I said the length wasn’t so much the problem, it was more the pacing that was the problem.

Ryan Gosling gives one of his best performances as Neil Armstrong. He does do his very familiar silent acting that movies like Drive and Blade Runner 2049 have made him known for, yet it really works for him in the role of Armstrong. He also has some notable emotional scenes that Gosling does great, and even when in some scenes where he appears stoic, you can tell at times that there are more emotions there under the surface. He’s not the only performance that really shines in this movie, Claire Foy is also a standout, playing Janet, Armstrong’s wife. She has quite a number of great scenes and was all around fantastic. Both of them really were at the top of their game. The rest of the supporting cast is also great. Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll and a bunch of others all serve their roles well and added to the movie.

It’s no surprise that Damien Chazelle’s direction is fantastic, but it is especially great when you consider how different First Man is to his previous movies, he’s really shown himself to be a talented and capable director in any genre. Some of the highlight scenes of the movie are the space/cockpits/testing scenes, all immersive and absolutely captivating and thrilling . I think First Man has some of the best scenes set in space. When it comes to these scenes, you really feel like you’re right there with the characters. The camera movements, the sounds, everything just works incredibly well. And yes, the segment where they are actually on the moon are worth the price of admission with the largest screen available alone. Also making it even better is the score by Justin Hurwitz. It goes from having moments of wonder to absolute thrilling and tense and then to some truly emotional stuff. Really I’d strongly recommend seeing First Man on the biggest screen you can find, it’ll increase your overall experience with the movie.

First Man isn’t Damien Chazelle’s best film (I still rate both Whiplash and La La Land higher) but it’s still a great movie on its own. The excellent direction mixed with the great performances results in a really good movie that although slow, is well worth seeing as soon as possible (and on the biggest screen available). With Whiplash, La La Land and now First Man, Chazelle has proven himself to have a long and exciting career ahead of him.

La La Land (2016) Review

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Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Ryan Gosling as Sebastian Wilder
Emma Stone as Mia Dolan
John Legend as Keith
Rosemarie DeWitt as Laura Wilder
Director: Damien Chazelle

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) are drawn together by their common desire to do what they love. But as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.

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I didn’t know what to expect from this movie. I like some musicals but I wasn’t like a massive fan of them. However, this movie had Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and was directed by Damian Chazelle, who directed Whiplash, my favourite movie of 2014. Both the talent involved as well as the critical acclaim got me to watch the movie. However, I was not prepared for how much I would love this movie. Everything in this movie is top notch, the acting, directing, cinematography, music, everything is excellent about this movie. This is such an incredible film.

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) in LA LA LAND.

Basically, the movie follows Sebastian and Mia, their romance and their stories as Sebastian tries to be a Jazz musician and Mia tries to be an actress. They are clearly passionate about these things and its very easy to get caught up in that. I found it very compelling to see them try to achieve their dreams and the things they go through (without spoiling anything). It’s also very easy to buy the romance, it’s handled very well. I will also say that La La Land is one of the best romance movies in a while. Now this movie is a musical and before you wonder, no, it’s not singing all the way through the movie. There are plenty of musical sections and while they are great (which I’ll get into later), the film overall is a perfect blend of musical and story. Also, the ending of the film, I wasn’t quite expecting it but worked very well for the movie.

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The movie is really focussed on Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and they are absolutely fantastic in this movie. I said earlier how it’s easy to buy their relationship and a large part of that is because their chemistry was perfect. It was just so fun and easy to watch these two interact. They perfectly conveyed their characters and their passions. Also, their singing and dancing in this film was excellent.

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The direction of this movie is absolutely perfect, which really is no surprise as Damian Chazelle directed this movie. With Whiplash and now La La Land, he’s proven that he really knows how to incorporate music into movies. A notable aspect of the film is that the cinematography is so beautiful. A lot of the scenes, especially the musical sequences are made to look like they were done in one shot, which is very impressive, it must not have been easy to do that. The choreography and dancing was also perfect, as was the music. The transition to the musical sections are also done well, it never felt abrupt or out of place. They transitioned seamlessly into the scenes. This movie is overall one of the best directed films of the year.

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La La Land is unexpectedly one of my favourite films of the year and one of my favourite experiences in the cinema this year. I don’t really have any problems with the movie. It’s one of the best directed films of the year and I think it’s one of the best musicals ever made. I slightly love Whiplash more than La La Land but it’s really close. La La Land is such an excellent movie. Even if you don’t like musicals I strongly recommend checking it out when you can, I think you’ll be surprised. I can’t wait to see more films from Damian Chazelle.