Thursday, December 25, 2014

George Colligan sees Whiplash

Jazz educators respond to the makers of Whiplash,
who are represented by the hapless trombonist.
UPDATE: Oh, here's another one, from Jazz Is the Worst, a blog that is attracting a lot of attention in musician circles, despite only having like eight posts. The writer sort-of rips it apart, and reveals all the plot turns, and it's fun enough to read.

Here's something to brighten up your Christmas: Pianist, bandleader, Jack Dejohnette sideman, college professor, and blogger George Colligan has seen and reviewed Whiplash, the ostensible jazz film that critics and audiences agree is, God, just insanely great. I can't wait to see what a real college jazz educator has to say about it:

Fifteen minutes in, I was ready to leave.

Oh, that's... um. Well. I... yes. He continues:

I decided to stay and watch the whole movie, and not just because my wife needed a ride home.

I nominate either of those lines for the movie's poster, which currently slaps you harshly in the face with words like "awe-inspiring", "incredible", and "astounding." As a rule, your quotes should at least leave the door open for the possibility of some redeeming qualities— they should be agnostic or better in re: your movie sucking— so maybe the latter one would be best.

"Whiplash" is, to begin with, so technically inaccurate that you wonder whether the director bothered to consult with anyone about basic things like:  
What's it really like at a music school?How does jazz music work?How does one set up a set of drums?and so forth......

[...] I'm not saying that a movie about music school has to be 100 percent accurate. I'm saying that this movie is SO inaccurate that it puts in the comically bad category for me- the same category as gems like, "Plan 9 from Outer Space," "Ishtar," "From Justin To Kelly," and so forth.

After citing a litany of inaccuracies which by now would be depressingly familiar to the film makers, if they cared about what people in the field thought about their movie, which they don't, Colligan continues:

I could go on and on. I believe that these things will be obvious to most musicians who see the movie. What's telling is that non-musicians are not bothered in the slightest by these issues. When you consider how medical shows or legal shows or even historical movies seems to spend a lot of effort on painstaking accuracy, why would a jazz education movie clearly not even be bothered. If you saw a medical show where the doctor referred to the heart as part of the skeletal system, or ask the nurse to hand him a scalpel and she handed him a stethoscope, you'd be rolling in the aisle!  

Ah, like Emergency Medical Treatment:

So, there we are. Colligan's piece is a fun read, but there's nothing really new here, if you've been following this saga; throw another outraged expert opinion onto the pile re: the film's accuracy. I imagine I'll see it when it comes to one of Portland's many second-run beer theaters, and will have something more to say about it then.

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