Caught up with FOXCATCHER yesterday. A disturbing and twisted little true story with terrific performances across the board (even with all the prosthetics). Channing Tatum continues to impress me. Maybe in part because I paid so little attention to him when he first hit the scene. It wasn’t until Soderbergh’s HAYWIRE that I realized just how engaging he could be. Then MAGIC MIKE sealed the deal. FOXCATCHER continues that thread of nuanced performance from Mr. Tatum. And yes, Steve Carell is terrifying as John DuPont and Mark Ruffalo proves again that he may be one of our most flawless performers.
The fun didn’t stop there, however. FOXCATCHER was just the first film in my double-feature day. As a lover of jazz, I was, in so many ways, already the audience for WHIPLASH before I ever saw it. WHIPLASH represents what good commercial cinema should look like. Terrific performances, a steady-handed director, a tight, intelligent script, and just enough classic storytelling conventions to push all the right buttons. It’s both an intense film and a crowd-pleaser all-in-one. The kind of film Hollywood used to make on a fairly regular basis and long since gave up on for more CGI-laden franchise films. Performances by both J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller are top-notch and I found the film itself to be absolutely riveting from start to finish. Now understand, WHIPLASH is a film that probably doesn’t reflect the reality of being a musician and takes some sweeping factual and historical liberties (the tale told about Charlie Parker is simply untrue), but if you can accept the story as just that, a story, then you may find it as entertaining as I did.
I also hope WHIPLASH helps, along with the upcoming John Hawkes-starring film LOW DOWN, to reinvigorate the public’s understanding of and appreciation for this epic art form known as Jazz. And maybe my little jazz documentary JAZZ NIGHTS: A CONFIDENTIAL JOURNEY will, in its own small way, add to that public-awakening. If nothing else, WHIPLASH will certainly broaden the audience for my film (to be released next year). Assuming I make sure they know it exists.