Films about drummers are a rarity. More often than not, movies about music focus on frontmen and guitarists, leaving the person on percussions lingering in the background—as they typically would during a performance.
This week, however, fans of jazz music (and jazz drumming in particular) have a reason to march their melodic-asses to the cinemas. Whiplash, the, ahem, drumming-of-age flick about a misguided music student aiming to hit it big, whacks its way into cinemas.
It stars current it-boy Miles Teller (that kid with the punch-worthy douchey-face your girl fawned over in Divergent and The Spectacular Now) as Andrew Nyman, a jazz-drumming fanatic who goes head-to-head with his dream conductor, Terrence Fletcher (the scary amazing J.K. Simmons) in the battle for who has the bigger drumstick.
The movie is deeply engaging, with each crash of the cymbal and slap to the snare ringing with emotional resonance. It’s also equally tense and hilarious, the two main characters creating a crescendo-like rapport that will have any viewer’s heartbeat rapidly firing in excitement. Young American director Damien Chazelle truly achieves a lot in this movie, not the least of which are the top audience and grand jury awards in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
In celebration of these movie drummers, we pull away the spotlight from those hard-screaming vocalists and ax-slaying guitarists in movies and put it on the kick-ass silver screen thumpers who rocked their moment in the limelight.
To warm you up though, here's a classic drum battle clip between Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith and Chad Smith's doppelganger, Will Ferrell!
1, 2, 3, 4, list time!
1) FISH FROM THE ROCKER
What does a washed-up drummer do when his band sells him out? Join his nephew’s alt-rock outing called A.D.D.! Count on Rainn Wilson of The Office fame to make psychedelic-print banana hammocks and cowboy boots stage-appropriate.
2) DEVON MILES FROM DRUMLINE
Before Nick Cannon diddled ex-wife Mariah Carey, he pounded it for a marching band in this college drama. And like all films set on a university campus: He finds true love, learns the value of hard work, and graduates on to better things. Well, at least it’s true for Nick in the movie.