But on the screen we see a young man who wants to please and the older man pushes and tortures his students. Both of them are selfish, both of them are not really people you would want to spend quality time with.
The film is tense and gripping as you wait for a new outburst.
The performances in the film are all good but the smaller of thse are overshadowed by the two obsessed leads. J.K Simmons , as the teacher, makes Buddy Rich look like Mr. Rogers and Miles Teller, as the student makes Dustin Hoffman in Rainman seem well balanced. The interaction of these two is worth the price of admission. You will recognize Simmons from his insurance commercials (hey, everyone needs to make a living) but he could wind up with an Oscar nomination depending on whether anyone SEES this movie.
The film does perpetuate the notion that you need to be a ranting lunatic to be an real artist. They repeat the story of a cymbal being thrown at Charlie Parker and there are constant images and references to Rich (almost as famous these days for the recordings of him ranting at his band as his drumming). But while you cannot BLAME the film for this notion it is worth pointing out that there are no stories about Count Basie throwing things at his band. Most jazz band leaders don't act like idiots if you play poorly; they just fire you. And for a musician losing a job is a bigger problem than someone yelling at you.
This movie is, of course, telling a specific fictional story.
The film will not make you like jazz if you don't already but if you HATE jazz do not let that scare you away from the movie. I am no aficionado of the genre, in fact, I sort of hate most jazz. Part of the reason is how deadly serious some people take it; just like the people in this movie. They take music and make it a chore. They turn what should be joy into a math problem.
But this is perfect grist for a movie. These obsessed, mad, characters keep you watching and wondering how it is all going to turn out.
Without giving too much away the love of music overcomes hostility, hard feelings and betrayal. It is sort of hard to come up with examples where this happens in real life? But this is, after all, a movie.