“Whiplash” is in that category.
The flick is about a drummer at a swank music school. Miles Teller plays Andrew and J.K. Simmons is Terence Fletcher, a renowned jazz instructor.
Fletcher is at once feared, respected and despised by his students. The musical equivalent of Bobby Knight, he is a foul-mouthed, in-your-face asshole whose curriculum is always rigorous and sometimes tortuous.
Andrew, born to an underachieving father and a mother who left him, aspires to the be next Buddy Rich, making the mark that his parents never did.
This movie is hold-your-breath tense.
Fletcher pushes the envelope of motivation. And the classroom scenes are peppered with adrenaline.
“Are you rushing or are you dragging?”
“That’s not my tempo.”
“We have a squeaker.”
The film is full of musical vernacular, but you don’t have to be a band geek to appreciate the character studies in this picture.
You will feel for the students. You will want to punch the manipulative Fletcher, whose digs are as cutting as the creases in his face.
And you will leave the theater enriched.