Whiplash ★★★★★

Although this was one of my, if not my top, favorite film of 2014, I had never gone back to revisit it since. Amidst all the La La Land, I got a chance to go back watch Whiplash again.

The connections to Goodwill Hunting were apparent to me on first viewing, but the debt owed to that film was made clear again on this viewing. Young, white men, and their Horatio Alger stories are not exactly de rigueur these days, but that doesn't mean the stories are inherently worthless. Chazelle's ambivalence about drive, ambition, and success is on display throughout this film. The final shot, an exchange between Teller and Simmons, captures the ambiguity perfectly. Given all the success he's seen this year, at the young age of 32, I wonder how Chazelle's thoughts on these themes will or won't change.

I've listened to this soundtrack so much since 2014 that it was a bit strange to visit the music again as part of the film, rather than standalone art. Much the same as the music in La La Land, the success of these films is in no small part because of how undeniably good the music is.