I never wanted to see Whiplash, the film about a young drummer and his sadistic instructor. It sounded remorselessly macho, and the trailer was quite enough. But after really enjoying La La Land, also "written and directed by Damien Chazelle", and realising that Whiplash was now on offer via Netflix, I thought I'd give it a go.
I almost wish I hadn't. All my previous misgivings were massively reinforced: two unpleasant, aggressive self-important egos battling for supremacy regardless of the cost to anyone. The outrageously unbelievable finale features an endless drum solo by the young start. He overrides what's meant to happen, appals the people he's playing with, goes on faster and louder than anyone else, and gracious mutters that he'll cue them back in when he's finished making an exhibition of himself. Is that what drumming is about?
So what happened between this disaster and La La Land, which has a sense of humour, a subtler feeling for jazz, and room for lively and intelligent female characters? the romantic in me thinks - maybe he met a girl? fell in love? was taken out at the back of a jazz club by an experienced player who told him that jazz was not a one man band? Sadly, no. He had the La La Land idea, and the script, six years ago. But it was only the success of Whiplash which enabled him to get it made. It is, as they say, a funny old world.