AND THE RHYTHM OF LIFE IS A POWERFUL BEAT: Movie review of Whiplash by Howard Casner

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whiplashJerome Robbins was one of the greatest choreographers and director in theater. But he was almost universally hated and it’s hard to find anyone who had a nice thing to say about him. There is one story, probably apocryphal, which sums up this feeling about the grand master: during West Side Story, he was slowly backing up toward the apron; everyone was so angry at him, they didn’t try to stop him and just watched him go off the edge of the stage.

On the other hand, Bob Fosse, at least equally as brilliant (possibly more), though a tough taskmaster, was universally loved. Even his ex-wives and lovers tended not to wax rapturously about the negative aspects of his personality.

Yet both, through different approaches, achieved wondrous things with their actors and dancers.

I thought of this as I was watching the new film Whiplash, written and directed by Damien Chazelle, a story about Fletcher, a tyrannical conductor and teacher of jazz at what the story contends is the greatest music school in the U.S. (Julliard is chopped liver, I suppose) and his new victim, I mean, pupil/discovery, Andrew, someone Fletcher thinks, through his Stalinesque methods, can be turned into a drummer on the level of Charlie Parker. Read the rest of this entry »