Miles Teller and JK Simmons in Whiplash

Do you miss the days when J.K. Simmons was a sadistic, sociopath prison rapist? Nowadays, he’s not so much into the dangerous manipulation and sex abuse — not when there’s a steady line of cop, military and general “authority figure” roles that let Simmons speak to us with his particular manner of sarcastic wisdom. But all those lectures on what we don’t know about our insurance have gotten a little stale. It’s time for Simmons to reclaim his rightful place on the “please stop screaming at me, sir” throne. He’ll do so with Whiplash, this year’s Sundance darling that stars Miles Teller as a young jazz drummer who just wants to make it big, man, and Simmons as the big man who will guide Teller to his dreams of being the next Buddy Rich. Oh, and Simmons’ preferred method of musical instruction is screaming so close to your face that his saliva strands brush your eyelashes. That’s the twist with Whiplash. Unlike most films where a character is super good at playing some kind of instrument, music isn’t the all-enlightening force that will right our hero’s wrongs and provide that outlet for creative expression that lets us know how deep and yet also flawed he is. Here, music is a platform for the scary bald man to beat you, then threaten much worse: he’ll “gut you like a pig” if all drumming is not perfect from now until the sweet release of death. Watch the new trailer for the movie below.


Sundance 2014

Seems like just twelve days ago that Kate Erbland and I posted a list of our most anticipated films playing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Our choices were based on elements as diverse as cast, premise, the filmmaker’s previous work, and even the two-word concept of an “abortion comedy.” As is always the case, though, expectations are never fully met, and while some movies we expected to love ended up disappointing us others that weren’t even on our radar completely blew us away. That, in a lanyard-wearing nutshell, is the beauty of film festivals. Unlike movies that open at your local cineplex or release onto Blu-ray and DVD each week, the majority of festival titles are unknown entities. There are no trailers or other marketing materials for these films, and the talent involved are often barely familiar faces at best. Most of the screenings are complete crapshoots, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This year’s Sundance was one of the most rewarding film festivals I’ve attended in regard to quality, and it’s evident in the high number of films already picked up for distribution. It’s telling that I had to exclude great and/or highly entertaining movies like Dear White People, Cooties, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, and The Battered Bastards of Baseball to narrow down my list below. Keep reading to see Kate’s and my top fourteen films of Sundance 2014.


review whiplash

Some people are content simply doing things. Work, art, music. The act alone justifies the time spent before the next thing comes along that captures their interest and affection. But for others, the idea of contentment is a foreign concept left behind in the urgent march forward to be the absolute best. These are the greats, the ones the rest of us know by name or by the images/sounds they create. Andrew (Miles Teller) wants to be one of those greats. His focus is drumming, jazz drumming in particular, and his immediate goal is to catch the ear of the Schaffer Music Academy’s legendary professor, Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). The man makes and breaks musicians, but his method of channeling R. Lee Ermey’s meaner cousin threatens to destroy Andrew’s dream before it even begins. Whiplash is a percussive thriller that drops viewers into the middle of an obsession, one that assaults the eyes and ears with a painful beauty and the occasional misstep before reaching an incredibly invigorating finale. Equal parts suspense and musical drama, the film is a blistering experience.



Usually when I say that you ‘must see’ something, I’m not looking to lead you astray. How could this possibly be any different?



You’ve been clamoring for non-grainy images, so we’re delivering them to you. Free of charge. (But please tip your waitstaff).



Does that mean that Rourke has turned down a $250,000 check from Marvel? Find out inside.


Rourke and Rockwell for Iron Man 2

Both actors are in talks with Marvel Studios to play the main villains in the highly anticipated second installment of the Iron Man franchise.

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