Director: Damien Chazelle
...his strokes are clean and crisp, with cinematographer Sharone Meir’s energetic camera performing visual arpeggios as it sweeps around the rehearsal rooms.
In the movie's first shot Andrew practices alone one night at the school, the camera rolling in slowly down a dark hallway. (Sharone Meir served as the cinematographer, and his lighting, equal parts Edward Hopper and Rembrandt, adds so much to the world we see here.)
The kinetic quality of this enthralling psychological drama is enhanced by evocative close-ups and stunning cinematography. The unease the viewer feels throughout the film comes to a crescendo in the final mesmerizing scene.
While “Whiplash” would be a notable film purely for Teller and Simmons’ performances, it reaches a different level when one considers the execution of its tempo. Editor Tom Cross and cinematographer Sharone Meir often put us right on stage with Andrew and Fletcher, cutting and panning in rhythm with the beat of the drum. It is captivating, to say the least, particularly in a climax that produces more tension than any action film or thriller this year.
The cinematography and editing are in a class of their own. The framing and rhythm of the images are in tight relation to the sounds, pulling us even deeper into the world of the characters.
...but better than the dialogue is the way the movie looks, sounds, feels. Shaffer is envisioned as a church of music, with rehearsal rooms paneled in dark oak and burnished amber lighting...
Chazelle and his collaborators tighten their grip; the sequence is a bravura display of camerawork, editing, sound recording, and acting in which the relationship between Andrew and Fletcher gets defined, then redefined, then redefined again.
Chazelle and his production team don’t just treat this like a great play. Working with cinematographer Sharone Meir and editor Tom Cross, the film feels musical, inspired by the jazz music at its center. The camera moves around its characters like notes in the air, and plenty of quick cuts emphasize the drumming at its core. It’s a virtuosic movie technically, all coming together in the film’s final fifteen minutes.
Sharone Meir's fluid, widescreen cinematography constantly on the prowl, moving in and out, left and right, even supplying a dizzying set of swish-pan shots that would make an Oliver Stone movie look visually sedate.
Sharone Meir's camera circles these fighters like a referee doing nothing about the low blows. Art can be vicious in Whiplash, while the beauty of its creation is revealed through glimpses of shuffled sheet music, licked reeds and evacuated spit valves.
Both Chazelle and Cross are apparent from the opening, using jazz standards to cut from skyscraper to skyscraper, recalling Woody Allen's "Manhattan" (1979), only with Hank Levy on the soundtrack instead of the Gershwins, and Sharone Meir's color cinematography instead of Gordon Willis' black and white.
The cinematography by Sharone Meir delves right into the intensity of the relationship. The sheer physicality of the drums is brilliantly illustrated with the close up. Sharone dissects the drum kit and offers an almost muscular showcase of the percussive instrument and all of it's thumping glory. The details of the texture in the cymbals and snare, the vibrations between them and the drumsticks all come alive with enlightening fervor. Couple that with the soaking grit of Andrew as his whole soul cloaks the kit time and time again and what you have is a visual potency that carries with it a sense of adrenaline few films have.
Credit also extends to Chazelle’s cinematographer, Sharone Meir, who lights both interiors and exteriors like ’70s-set urban dramas and crime-thrillers popularized by Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, William Friedkin, and Brian De Palma (among others).
Even more mind-blowing than the performances however, is the cinematography and editing of Andrew’s heavy and relentless drumming scenes.
He, his editor (Tom Cross) and his cinematographer (Sharone Meir) dominate the film, making sure the film is able to match its visuals with the emotions and goals of its characters.
The director teams up with cinematographer Sharone Meir to wrestle images of foreboding and threat onto the screen, the cinematographer leaving no frame untouched by shadow, and no room empty of agitation. Though a sports film structure provides Whiplash with its foundation, complete with rehearsal montages and a journey towards an anticipated performance, the feature’s mastery of minutiae exceeds its standard framework.
The camera zooms in on faces and hands, swoops across the room, and, appropriately, whips back and forth between characters to create an action feeling in an environment where very little action takes place.
Cinematographer Sharone Meir, composer Justin Hurwitz and editor Tom Cross also deserve major kudos; everything falls perfectly into place.
Cinematic bravura bursts from the picture's classically composed frames: gorgeous warm lighting complements the sense of history of the jazz numbers their artists play;
The editing and cinematography are just as impressive as the performances, working in tandem to match the musical tempo of each scene. The pace goes from quiet and dramatic moments to the intense jazz-filled performances.
-The Columbia Chronicle
Better than any film I’ve ever seen, Whiplash captures music’s visceral qualities. The camerawork is exhilarating: closing in tight on fingers and faces, darting between instruments as they surface in an arrangement.
Sharone Meir’s cinematography and Tom Cross’ editing come together like claps of thunder. But like its visual make up and energy. Whiplash is effective in a nerve jangling way. It is both rousing moment by moment and satisfying as a complete, dramatic trajectory.
At the same time, there’s a profound love at work for the form, and with cinematographer Sharone Meir, Chazelle puts the viewer in Andrew’s point of view, manipulating focus and sound to convey his state of mind. When he plays, the camera is right in the kit, conveying the sweaty, bloody physical exertion of the exercise, and the passion and spirit bouncing off the skins.