Just about the best movie in Cannes this year was Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash.” First seen in Sundance, “Whiplash” was snapped up by Sony Pictures Classics. It will hit theaters this fall with hot as a pistol Miles Teller and veteran actor J.K. Simmons in what it literally the role of his very successful life time.
Exclusive: I can tell you that 28 year old Harvard grad Chazelle is so hot himself now that LionsGate has signed up his next film, a musical called “La La Land.” Joked “Whiplash” producer Michel Litvak of BOLD Films to me at the movie’s Director’s Fortnight screening: “He’s a star now! I couldn’t afford it!” (It’s a joke because I think Litvak can afford most anything.)
Teller, who first appeared in “Rabbit Hole” with Nicole Kidman, next shoots “Bleed For This” directed by Ben Younger in November, with Aaron Eckhart. He goes from being a college drummer in “Whiplash” to a young boxer in “Bleed.” He’s poised to be the new Leo, on a very fast track with substantial movies. We will try and forget the movie he had out this past winter with Michael B. Jordan and Zac Efron, the latter naked on a toilet.
“Bleed” is produced by Martin Scorsese’s Emma Koskoff and Oscar winner Bruce Cohen. The budget is also $5 million now. But wait til Scorsese adds his name as Executive Producer.
Indeed, when “Whiplash” hits, Koskoff and Cohen are going to look brilliant. The reception at the Director’s Fortnight was a smash– and Teller wasn’t even there.
But Simmons was, and he couldn’t have been more overwhelmed. Starting with Sundance, he knows they have a it. Simmons has been a dramatic (“Oz”) and comedic (“Spider Man” movies with Tobey Maguire) all-star. He was Ellen Page’s understanding dad in “Juno.” And he’s been featured in dozens of different “Law & Order” episodes over the last decade. All of this prepares him for the role of Terence Fletcher, the zealous demanding leader of a New York college jazz ensemble. Teller is the star drummer whom Simmons is trying to mold. The pair are incendiary together.
It’s a little like “Master Class” with percussion. Both actors are going to be up for a lot of awards. Chazelle is the Ryan Coogler of 2014.