My son and I watched the movie Whiplash last night. He is a drummer and guitarist, so he was interested in this movie. (He loves Rush, but appreciates Jazz and Buddy Rich).
My definition of great art is when the piece evokes thought and/or emotion in the audience. Whether it is writing, music, paintings, sculpture, performance or just a good story, the goal is engage and provoke thought and emotion. A sad story can be just as powerful as a happy one. Art does not require neat tidy endings with answers to all of the questions. What is Mona Lisa smiling at?? Knowing the artists intention would actually diminish the artistic quality because it might discourage thought. The best art is interpreted differently by different people.
Whiplash is high art, in my opinion. It evoked emotion and thought every step of the way. To be clear, not very much happened in the plot. It seems (in hindsight) that there were very few scenes. However, I was left feeling raw and troubled with questions and ideas racing through my mind such as:
- Do “great musicians” require life turmoil to become great?
- What is the right amount to “push” a kid?
- Is the teacher a monster or a genius or both?
- I hate Jazz, but this is cool. Is this Jazz?
- What will the kid be like when he is older?
- How did the father feel after the ending?
- Did his father finally appreciate what made the kid special?
- What about the other kids, the no-so-special ones?
Whiplash is a great movie that will leave you feeling troubled and alive. The budget was just 3 million dollars. I hope more movies can be made with this level of artistic thought. Strongly recommend.