Sony Pictures Classics
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.
From those brief minutes above, it’s apparent Simmons is giving a monster of a performance here, one that’s absolutely reminiscent of his time in Oz’s Emerald City. That tactic of playing the soothing mentor who invites you in, only to trap you in a web of screamy manipulation? Total Verne Schillinger stuff. The one issue with this trailer, though, is that Whiplash is rated R for all kinds of obscene language. And to keep that big green band in front of the trailer, all of Simmons’s naughty words must be excised, for the children’s sake (this explains why the dialogue gets a little jumpy around the 45 second mark).
But if you really want to hear Simmons swearing with reckless abandon, we’ve got the hookup. Below is a short clip from Whiplash. Not this Whiplash but the original short film that inspired the feature you now see before you. And by the same director, to boot: Damien Chazelle.
There’s no Miles Teller, but at least it’s got the F-words we’re all craving.
All hail the return of Angry J.K. Simmons. Be warned: he may whip a chair at you if you sing “we are Farmers, bum buh dum bum bum bum bum” slightly off pitch.
Whiplash hits theaters on October 10, 2014.