Miles Teller plays Andrew, an aspiring drummer attending a musical conservatory in Manhattan. He practices late at night when nobody is around, which catches the attention of Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the school’s most elite jazz music teacher, who almost immediately sets to torturing the music out of Andrew. It’s apparent that Fletcher sees something in Andrew early on, even though he’s terrorizing him. Andrew winds up in Fletcher’s band for a tryout, and those tryouts involve verbal emasculation and chairs being thrown at his head when he fails to meet Fletcher’s tempo. Those who watched HBO’s Oz know that Simmons is fully capable of playing the most heinous of human beasts. Fletcher is an amazing creation, an above-the-law terror who believes great musicians come from great suffering. As horrible a human being as he is, he truly thinks he is doing students a great service by withholding the reward of teacher approval. Doing much of his own drumming to go along with his burning, compassionate performance, Teller opens himself up in an astonishing way both physically and emotionally. Whether he’s taking legitimate cracks to the face from Simmons, or screaming at his sweat-drenched self in a tiny practice chamber, Teller leaves it all on the drum kit, including his own blood. The movie was filmed at breakneck speed, and Chazelle is a director of amazing precision. This is an all time great movie about music, as well as being an all time great character war. It’s not to be missed.

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