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Much of the power of the extraordinary film "Whiplash" comes from the interaction between two remarkable performers. This is a star-making role for Miles Teller, an actor who has previously appeared in films like "Rabbit Hole" and the "Footloose" remake, and he's soon to make a further splash in the big-budget "Fantastic Four" reboot and "Divergent" sequel.

J.K. Simmons may be known to most as the dad from "Juno" or J. Jonah Jameson in the previous "Spider-Man" series, but his roles in a series of films by the Coen Brothers, or his inimitable portrayal of Vernon Schillinger on HBO's "Oz" has ably demonstrated his capacity to play almost any role. With a fearsome, nuanced performance, Simmons' role of Terrance Fletcher should, with any justice, garner J.K. a nod at Oscar time.

Moviefone Canada spoke to the two performers during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

This film's director, Damien Chazelle, has talked about how personal this project is for him. How do his experiences connect with you personally?
Miles Teller:
I kept asking him "Is this believable? " I would be drumming for a long period of time, all of my drumsticks would be covered in blood. After I started rehearsing and practicing as much as I was, I started getting blisters and there were a lot of Band-Aids, a lot of blood. Damian wrote a beautiful script and I think that's the actor's job to make it as personal as they can. I was very much in that world. The guy just wanted to be the greatest drummer that ever lived. It was nice to play a character that has one goal in mind. I'll have all of these relationships, but my relationship is with this dude and with my drums.

Were you guys kept separated through the shooting?
J.K. Simmons: Yeah, it was a contractual thing for me. He was not allowed to look at me or speak to me [Laughs]. We settled into this rhythm pretty quickly, actually. We just behaved like a couple of douches, had a good time and kept it light, because there was enough drama when the cameras were rolling.

I find it amusing that a general audience thinks you're a terror, and some musicians don't think you go far enough.
JS: A lot of musicians had a guy like me in their background. Even guys that didn't play with Buddy Rich. The most gratifying thing to me is that between Miles and Damien and myself, all actually have a musical background, and the first thing that we hear, that we all hear from musicians is "Well, you guys were bringing it. You guys knew what you were doing and you made a musical movie."

Obviously the final step in that was the way it was assembled, the way that Damien and the editor put it all together, which was brilliant. The two things I get are musicians saying that they had -- whether it was a teacher or a conductor or somebody else -- they were like, yeah, he was at least that hard on me, either that or coaches. Miles equates it to a baseball coach he had. For me it was a high school football coach. You look back and you go, what a psycho, I mean, back off ... [Laughs]

But have you had a musician or a coach go "I'm that guy!"
JS: Oh, no, I haven't met that guy, nobody's going to own up to it. Oddly, I did have that when I was doing [the white supremacist Nazi character on] "Oz" a few times, which was a little ... I'd have guys coming up to me on the street going, "Oh, man, dig what you said!"

Did you have to build up to project that level of authority, or is it something that comes naturally to you?
JS: I guess I'm just a natural bastard. It's like anything you're bringing out, whether it's laughter or tears or anything, you've got to go down and get it and bring it out, but that's our job, is to have all of that accessible to ourselves and be able to do it.

MT: I think for J.K., for the character of Fletcher, J.K. has such control over his voice and that's a very powerful tool for an actor. J.K. can get very quiet, and he can also get very loud, and his mannerisms as Fletcher are very controlled and precise.

It's hard to imagine this film really working with another type of music other than Jazz
JS: Damien came from a jazz background, but Miles and I both, our musical background was not jazz. I think both of us really gained more of an appreciation for jazz as an art form as we prepared for and shot the movie.

Was this a dream, being able to show that you have these other skills in a way that you haven't been able to before?
MT: My mom says that this will always be her favourite movie because she gets to watch her kid play music. We always had a household where everybody was playing multiple instruments. I really think she thought she'd be the lead singer in her kids' band. It's rare to find a movie where you get to play an instrument that's not a biopic, and for me to be able to play drums in something was great, because with drummers nobody ever tells you hey, play a drum solo! It was very gratifying and it will probably never happen again.

JS: I studied music in college, but I was never good at any instrument, my hands just don't work that way. But I did study conducting and composition and singing. It was cool when I was playing the piano, it was pretty simple piano obviously, but I practiced it quite a lot again because my hands just don't connect. There were times when I was playing with that quartet, there were brief moments where I got to feel like Miles often did as we were playing with the big band -- wow, this is what it would be like if I actually had the chops to do this for a living. This feels pretty great.

The film uses a mix of playing with live performers and playback. How much of a challenge was that process?
MT: Most of the time it just feels so artificial and they don't know how to do it with the playback and get the audio. We did zero ADR [automated dialogue replacement, or "looping"] for this movie. Damien is a freaking wizard. Between the playback and when we were playing live, it was just all so symbiotic. The musicians in the scenes, most of them were real musicians so they would be playing with the playback. When we were playing Whiplash, and I first get on the kit, I don't know what happens to that folder, I really don't. Who knows what happens, I swear to God, but you feel like you're part of an ensemble.

The ending is pretty extraordinary
JS: That's the whole question, can you pull this off? The answer is yes because we've seen audiences respond to it now, and I think we both quickly developed a confidence in Damien that he was going to make it work.

MT: I think it's awesome that the film ends with a climax. I can't tell you the last time I saw a movie that does that. Rarely do films leave you like that.

JS: Yeah, where they leave you with, there's no denouement, it's like bang, over, which is awesome.

Has Fletcher's style of criticism ever worked on you to get you where you are?
I was never the kid who wanted to be coddled. I did like when coaches I had were tough. When I was in theatre school, I had this one teacher that everybody thought was crazy, outrageous and stuff, but I saw the method to her madness. As long as it's coming from a point of view where you respect their opinion, you can't just have anybody barking orders at you, because as soon as you lose that respect for them, it doesn't matter what they say.

JS: I don't condone everything the character does. But many of the people that I've worked with, whether it was a teacher or coach or director or producer who were extreme like that and sort of abusive, it was because they realized their own inadequacies. In Fletcher's case, it's a true passion for the work, for the art, the greatness. With a lot of people, it's just their own inner frustrations and their own inner unhappiness. A lot of times you work with a director who's just always screaming at people and being abusive. I don't even see where this is coming from with you, you're just an asshole.

Who's your biggest critic to date?
I'm his biggest critic.

MT: I think there's no shortage of critics in this business that we're in, especially with Twitter and everything. There's going to be people out there that just want to hate it so you click on their review, stuff like that, so I just stay away from it.

JS: I don't always watch my work, but having seen "Whiplash" three times now. I look at it and think, well, that could have been better, and I blame the editor. [Laughs]

"Whiplash" is now playing in theatres.

'Whiplash' Trailer

Gal Gadot at Wonder WomanIs it April Fool's Day? Are cats and dogs best friends? Are we crazy, or did Warner Bros. and DC Comics announce that they're looking for woman to direct their "Wonder Woman" movie?

Buried deep within an item on The Hollywood Reporter about WB's plans for 10 superhero movies is a crazy little detail that's thrown in there almost like an afterthought. "Warners also is opting for strong directors, tapping David Ayer ('Fury') for 'Suicide Squad' and seeking a female helmer for Gal Gadot's 'Wonder Woman.'"

Marvel has been dominating the superhero space, but Kevin Feige has been hemming and hawing about bringing "Black Widow" to the screen as a stand-alone film. Well, unless Feige has a big surprise in store for fans (and for everyone at Marvel), it seems that DC is getting the jump on catering to audiences hungry for a more female-centric superhero flick.

Explicitly looking for a female director to take the reins is the cherry on top. As Cinemablend's Kristy Puchko points out, the only female directors who have taken a crack at directing a superhero film are Lexi Alexander, who did "Punisher: War Zone," and Rachel Talalay, who was behind "Tank Girl." And as much as we love Tank Girl, calling her a superhero is a stretch.

As Puchko also points out, gender shouldn't really make a difference as long as the director is dedicated to bringing "Wonder Woman" to the big screen in all her glory, but the message matters. It's not just that there aren't as many female filmmakers, but that they aren't entrusted with the sort of giant properties and budgets that are often handed directly to male directors with much less experience.

The only question now is if WB/DC will stick with this plan, and if so, who they'll pick. Do you have any suggestions in mind?

[via The Dissolve]

Since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival last January, "Whiplash" has been on a bit of a tear. Winning both the audience and jury prizes in Park City, the film has gone on to screen at numerous festivals all over the world, gaining further acclaim at Cannes, winning best film at Deauville, and playing to rapturous applause at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

The film is a bombastic tale about a drum student living up to the near-impossible expectations set by a tyrannical instructor. With its mix of fantasy and documentary-like reality, it's a film made more remarkable for its shifts in tone that build up to a stunning finale. Director Damien Chazelle spoke with Moviefone Canada about the reception the film has received since its debut, working with the film's remarkable cast, and how that ending came together in the edit.

Moviefone Canada: You first made the film as a short that played Sundance -- was this always conceived as a feature?
Damien Chazelle: No one wanted to make the feature script I'd written, and that led to the short. It was made to try and convince people that a movie about a jazz drummer could be watchable, let alone exciting. I'd been a jazz drummer myself, so I knew I was biased. I knew to me, it felt like high stakes drama, but it was hard to convince people of that on the page. So we just pulled a scene from that, did it as a short, took that to Sundance, and that helped to get us the money.

When did you know that it was going to work?
I guess as soon as we finished the short. I still don't know if [the final film] works as a piece of art, but we made a short and a feature in such a fast, agenda-driven way that we almost didn't have time to second-guess ourselves. That was the one benefit of a rushed schedule, so it was just about getting the money and then actually making the thing, [about] getting on set and then making the Sundance submission time. You don't have time to actually think about too much more until you're actually at Sundance and beyond.

You've played the film now to different audiences, from Sundance to Cannes to TIFF. How has the reaction changed?
I have a hard time dealing with screenings at all. Cannes, Sundance, the first screenings at each of these festivals, I kind of forced myself to sit through, so those are the first times I've seen it with an audience. Sundance was the first time so it was like a daze. I was probably the most nervous about Cannes because I heard they boo movies there. Cannes was great so I was [thinking] Toronto, hopefully that will be fun, but it's not going to be as good as Cannes. Then actually, we screened it yesterday and I had a blast. Some people seem to take it as a triumphant sort of thing, other people take it as a tragedy. I think I thought it was more of a feel-bad movie, more of a tragedy.

Did your view of the storyline change at all now that you've lived with the film for a little bit?
When I was making it, I really thought it was in many ways a dark, depressing kind of movie that was hopefully entertaining, but ultimately an incredibly sad story about a person becoming a shell of himself, and bullying as a systemic kind of thing. On the one hand, it surprised me, on the other hand, it's bracing that people do seem to respond to that but also that they get a visceral, fun kick out of it.

I think that's really what the music does, it's certainly what the music did to me growing up. I think people who think they don't like jazz, if you film it right, as with anything, if you put it on screen and force people to pay attention to it, the music is undeniable. When you're playing something like Caravan, it's just that you're playing one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, so that carries a lot of the weight.

Is the character J.K. Simmons based on someone you knew?
He's based in large part on a teacher I had as a drummer myself, a sort of composite of that and people who I studied with. There's certain big elements I can't really take credit for, in the sense that there's nothing in that character that I didn't steal from some part of my experience, jazz history, or other people's stories.

There's quite a bit of power in J.K. Simmons' performance.
Yeah, there's so much to say there's almost nothing to say. I can't take that much credit. He was in the short we used as the investment tool. We didn't have any time for rehearsal, so the day before the shoot of the short I said, "Just make sure when you're yelling in the script, don't just yell, just literally become not human." I said "become an animal" and he nodded. He came back the next day and he scared all of us and that was it. Where he was at in the short is where he was in the feature, so that was already a fully formed thing.

What's the relation with the composition "Whiplash" that gives the film its name?
I used to play it, and it was the bane of my existence. It's a drummer's nightmare. Both Whiplash and Caravan were pieces that I played a lot growing up and Whiplash was the first, that whole first rehearsal scene I remember was my first rehearsal scene. I showed up and the teacher pointed me out and said we've got the newbie here, everybody look at him, and then they played Whiplash and I didn't know how to read music at that point. It was just this jumble of notes.

Everyone thought I knew how to read music but I secretly didn't, so I had to teach myself how to very quickly. I saw the time signature, but didn't know what it meant. I had no idea what the drummer was doing and it totally screwed with me, and it's the kind of song that sometimes seems deceptively simple because it'll slide into a groove, and it feels like you can clock into it. It's called Whiplash, it's like the whole thing is designed to screw with you and make you scared, and that was interesting to me, that there's elements of jazz and elements of music that have hostility built into them, that I hadn't seen a movie about.

Can you still hear the song Whiplash and not feel the pain, and can you watch your film and not feel the struggle of making it?
I can listen to Whiplash and enjoy it, I can watch the movie and well, not enjoy it, but not think about the pain of making it. Whatever the songs that were on the radio, and I don't even remember what they are, or on my iPod driving to the set back and forth, now whenever I hear them, I think about that four-week period of shooting that was a four-week daze, [like a] boot camp.

"Whiplash" is now playing in theatres.

'Whiplash' Trailer

aaron paul toys r us
But how do you really feel, Aaron Paul?

The former "Breaking Bad" co-star has been tweeting up a storm about the decision by mega-retailer Toys 'R' Us to pull "Breaking Bad" figures from store shelves. And he's making some pretty salient points. The company's move was prompted by a petition started by a mother in Florida who wrote, "Their decision to sell a 'Breaking Bad' doll, complete with a detachable sack of cash and a bag of meth, alongside children's toys is a dangerous deviation from their family friendly values."
Paul, whose wife Lauren Parsekian is the co-founder of the anti-female bullying organization Kind Campaign, questioned why a store that sells Barbie and violent video games would draw the line at "Breaking Bad." For example, the store sells a figure of Ash from the "Evil Dead" movies; this figure, technically from the second "Evil Dead," is holding a shotgun in one hand and has a chainsaw in place of his right hand, because he'd been forced to saw it off when it became possessed by an evil spirit and tried to kill him.

Look, we're just saying. Pinkman's got a point.

[Via EW]

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Top L to R: Lauryn (Pumpkin), Mike (Sugar Bear), Jessica (Chubbs), Anna (Chickadee). Bottom L to R: Alana (Honey Boo Boo), June (Momma). TLC    Producer Deliverable 31270_ep101_010.jpg
TLC has canceled its hugely popular reality show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" after a rumor surfaced on TMZ that June Shannon is romantically involved with a registered sex offender. The details are fairly stomach-turning, but if you want to read more, here's the report at TMZ.

Despite claims that the two haven't dated in a decade, execs at TLC were concerned enough to cancel the series. They issued the following statement:

"TLC has canceled the series 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo' and ended all activities around the series, effective immediately. Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority. TLC is faithfully committed to the children's ongoing comfort and well-being."

Shannon posted a video to Facebook about the matter, even though "TLC has kinda told us to be hush hush." She said, "Just got a phone call this morning from TLC and, as of right now there will be no more production of the show... These statements of me dating a sex offender is totally untrue. I would not ever ever every put my kids in danger. I love my kids too much. That is my past. I have not seen that person in 10 years and I don't seem to want to see that person."

The network stated on Thursday that they were "not currently in production" on the show, but The Hollywood Reporter indicates that some episodes were already shot. Either way, the reign of "Honey Boo Boo" is over.

[Via Deadline]