This is the look back at the last three movies I watched. Quite different movies. One Norwegian one, which is fun.
Whiplash is a 2014 Oscar nominated movie. It is about Miles Teller, or
Andrew, which is his character’s name, who goes to a prestigious music academy
in New York. He wants to be a jazz drummer, and really wants to be admitted into
the house band where Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is the conductor.
Fletcher finds Andrew in the basement one night, practicing his drumming, and a
couple of days later he invites Andrew into the house band as an alternate
drummer. Fletcher is both verbally and physically abusive to his band. When he
wants Andrew to give him an answer he makes him count and then slaps him in the
face. Eventually Andrew gets promoted to core drummer. But Terrence is a
psychopath and keeps being abusive to his students. He also invites a sort of
rival of Andrew to the band to make Andrew work harder.
It’s absolutely astounding. There is so much jazz music, and dudes
everywhere. Not a lot of ladies in this movie. Let’s move past it. There is so
much music weaved through the whole movie, and it’s so beautiful. The musicians
are pretty much at the top of their game, the best musicians of their
generation, that kind of stuff.
Terrence is incredible. I feel like in a lot of music movies/TV shows
it’s very inspirational, and if you just try for a bit it’ll all be good, and
let’s do a montage. Terrence Fletcher basically acts like an officer in the
army getting his soldiers ready. He is verbally abusive, he’s physically
abusive. He demands absolute perfection from them. When Andrew (I really want to call him Miles,
I don’t know why) is told off, or abused basically, he goes to extreme lengths
to become good. Playing until he bleeds, playing until the skin is chafed away
from his hands. He cuts his girlfriend out of his life and he does nothing but
rehearse. The other music films/TV I’ve seen has made music, even on a more
professional level it doesn’t seem like hard work. I might not have seen the
best music films/TV. But this makes you think that succeeding as a musician is
really tough work. It means you have to work hard, and a lot. You can’t just
slide through. I don’t know that Terrence Fletcher’s approach is correct, but
he seems to come from a place of wanting the best for his kids. He wants them
to be the best they can be.
I really loved J.K. Simmons. He’s a great performer. He doesn’t really
look like a jazz conductor, I have no idea why I think that, my own
preconceptions I suppose, but he does a great job of being a crazy person who
works his students as hard as possible. He’d make a great field marshal. I also
love Miles Teller, because he’s magical. You’d think that because Fletcher is
so awful you sort of sympathize with Andrew, because of… well why wouldn’t you?
But Andrew isn’t a particularly nice person. He starts off as really sweet,
he’s a 19-year-old who goes to the movies with his dad and wants to be Buddy
Rich. He becomes incredibly obsessed with becoming the best, and cuts people
out of his life. He’s also entirely insufferable. He thinks he’s the best and
god help people who don’t feel the same. He clearly has reason to, his extended
family, and to a certain extent his dad, seem to think his drumming is silly,
and he’s not a jock, so like, how could he be of any value? And also his
teacher is insane, but he’s still sort of an asshole. Miles plays it
beautifully. He is so good. And so perfect, and he has great hair. Also his dad
is played by Paul Reiser, who was so good, like what up Paul, how you doing?
I’ve had wine, I’m being weird. Anyways.
I really loved how it made music seem like hard work, like something
that takes dedication. We see so little of what musicians actually do. We hear
their records, and we see their shows, and like we don’t see their hours long
sessions where they work and work and work at their craft. We don’t see the
blisters they get, the blood and sweat they pour into it. And that’s very much
what the movie is about, and it was amazing.
So this is a Norwegian action adventure movie about these soldiers
called the Birkebeiners. It doesn’t have an English translation really, and
also doesn’t really mean anything. They were a political party and soldiers
fighting against the Danish occupation of Norway in the 1200s. So what the
movie is about is this legendary thing that happened in like 1204. The
Norwegian king, Håkon, is killed. His killers are like; sweet, the king is
dead, we can totes get the Danish in here, and I Guttorm, can make my brother
Inge, the next guy in the succession seem like the killer, and I can totally be
king under the Danes. Sweet. Little does he know that Håkon had a bastard baby
with a lady named Inga from Varteig. Håkon Håkonsson. And apparently the baby
doesn’t need to be legitimate to be king, because who cares, right? So two
Birkebeiner guys go to Inga, take the kid, and on skis, go across the country
to keep the baby safe, so that he can become king. I should say, Inga is
totally on board, they don’t kidnap him. She doesn’t want her son to be killed.
They basically save the day. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s a real thing that
happened 800 years ago. Håkon Håkonsson is eventually the longest reigning king
of Norway. When Håkon is 13 the regent, the formerly mentioned Inge, dies, and
Håkon takes the throne, and he rules for 46 years. Badass.
So I thought it was fun. It’s a very cool story. It’s so Norwegian. It’s
about dudes who look like Vikings, skiing across the country with a king
strapped to their backs. Rebellion by cross country skiing, that’s us. It’s
also cool that I share the name of Håkon’s mother. Which is fun.
It also made me laugh a bit, because it’s a bit camp-y. And it’s so odd.
Basically there are a lot of dramatic scenes with horse riding, but because
it’s the north, and snow-y, and everything they use these sturdy little ponies,
which makes sense, they can’t use tall, thin-legged horses to carry big burly
guys through show, but it makes the horse chases look incredibly adorable. It’s
funny when tall, burly Viking-looking dudes ride ponies.
I really liked it though, because I like our history. It’s a very cool
thing in our history where we sort of stood up to the people trying to occupy
us. I also keep throwing “Viking” around. They weren’t really Vikings. This happened
after the Viking age ended, these guys are just Norwegian farmers and soldiers.
I feel like the performances were pretty solid. Kristoffer Hivju plays
one of the guys who goes across the country. Yes, Kristoffer Hivju, of Game of
Thrones. He looked basically like he looks in Game of Thrones, so I’m on board.
I have a massive crush on him. Thorbjørn Harr plays Inge, the regent. He is/was
in Vikings, he plays/played Jarl Borg, I haven’t seem the show, no idea if he’s
still in it, too lazy to check. Apparently Norway exports actors with blond or
red beards who play Vikings or guys that are sort of like Vikings. That and
salmon. We’re fun. Such a varied range of stuff. Not a big range admittedly.
The wine is getting to me. Let’s move on.
I feel like it could have been better, it was a bit camp and forced
sometimes, but it’s a really compelling story, and it’s funny. Also, a guy I
know was an extra in it, so that basically made it for me. I mean he was on the
side of the bad guys, but still. I know him, and he was in the credits. Like.
Wow. I shouldn’t review movies when I’m tipsy. I feel like I veer.
I watched Sideways because Greg Proops does a podcast called the Greg
Proops filmclub, and he was going to see it for that. That podcast has still
not been released, but I was like fuck it, I’m gonna see it now. So I did. It’s
about two guys, Miles and Jack. Jack is played by Thomas Haden Church, and he
is going to get married to the prison director from the first season of Orange
is the New Black. Was that her job? The actress’s name is Alysia Reiner.
Anyway. Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, is Jack’s friend, and an aspiring, but
unsuccessful writer. They’re going to California wine country for a sort of
bachelor party week where they drink wine, play golf and do other white guy
things. Miles is a wine buff/functional alcoholic, and he goes up there a lot
to write and has a crush on Maya, who works as a waitress in his regular
restaurant. Jack wants to have a last fling before he gets married and when
they meet Stephanie (Sandra Oh), a pourer at a vineyard, who knows Maya, they
go on double dates, drink wine and Stephanie and Jack start hooking up. Miles
is pretty displeased with this development, and really doesn’t want to be
involved, but he’s very drawn to Maya, so he goes with it.
It’s really quiet and beautiful and so sad. And so beautiful. It made me
want to go to California wine country, it was absolutely gorgeous. They drive
around, while drunk by the way, and it’s so gorgeous and lush. I realize that
the US has different laws concerning driving and alcohol than my puritanical
homeland, but it’s so internalized that I got incredibly anxious. Anyway. The
story… so Thomas Haden Church, who is weird, and sort of gorgeous, plays this
actor whose work is declining and he’s considering going into his
father-in-law’s business. And he wants this last fling before he marries. And
he basically lies to Stephanie and he thinks he’s falling for her, and it’s so
infuriating. It’s an incredible movie, but good god. The arrested development
is real. He’s clearly panicking about his declining career and the fact that
he’s becoming this boring married dude, and he just needs to re-establish his masculinity.
And maybe he does fall for Stephanie, or maybe he just falls for the idea of
being young and bohemian and cool.
Miles is a wine buff, or an alcoholic with a hobby. He seems to be very
anxious and uncomfortable with human interaction. He is divorced, but he also
doesn’t move on from this divorce, he’s pretty sure he’ll get back together
with his wife, even though he obviously won’t, because you know. That would
never happen. Because his wife is beautiful and magical and a functioning
grown-up. He is beautifully played by Paul Giamatti, who is an incredible
actor. Seriously. I realize this isn’t news, but he’s incredible.
I really loved Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen’s performances. They’re
incredible women. Sandra Oh is so cool that it’s sort of infuriating. I loved
that they both had agency, and good backstories, and weren’t just there for the
men to bonk. Obviously it was Jack’s intention to bonk Stephanie, but she’s
tough, and strong, and beautiful, and she has a child and a story. And she gets
to beat the shit out of someone, which is nice. I thought Virginia Madsen was
incredible. She was subtle and wonderful, and so restrained and gorgeous.
I really loved this. It was incredibly beautiful, and it was very quiet
and subtle, and weird, and wonderful. So yes, all the superlatives I can think