Den Cheadle shines in Miles Davis movie (don't call it a bio-pic)
"Miles Ahead" (2015 release; 100 min.) is a movie about the jazz legend Miles Davis. As the movie opens, we are in 1980, and Miles is being interviewed, and comments to the reporter: "Don't call my music jazz, it's social music!". It's not long before another reporter, Rolling Stone's Dave Braden, chases down Miles, to write a "come-back story in Miles' own words". We then go back to the 1950s, as Miles is breaking big. One day he meets Francis, and he is immediately smitten with her. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: first and foremost, this movie is a labor of love AND a tour-de-force by Don Cheadle, who stars in the title role and directs, and he also co-wrote the script and co-produced. His performance as Miles Davis is spot-on, and towers above everyone else. Sorry Ewan McGregor (as the Rolling Stone reporter), and sorry also Emayatzy Corinealdi (as Frances). Cheadle's brilliant performance covers up the somewhat confusing back-and-forth between the "present" (i.e. late 70s) and the flashbacks in the 50s. Please note that "Miles Ahead" is not a bio-pic, nor is it intended as one. Cheadle (whose vision for the film was fully supported by the Miles family) simply picked two periods of Miles' life and attempts to give us a flavor of what Miles Davis the man was like. At that, I think Cheadle succeeds. If you don't care for the music of Miles Davis (?), by all means avoid this film, as it is chock-full of outstanding music (check out the excellent soundtrack, available here on Amazon). The very last scene of the movie is a live performance with participating in the band none other that Herbie Hancock, Gary Clark Jr. and Esperanza Spalding, just to name those. Just fantastic. Last but not least, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that 95% of the movie was shot on location here in Cincinnati. Yes indeed, just like Todd Haynes' film "Carol" a few months ago, there are certain sections of Cincinnati that apparently easily stand in for New York back in the day.
"Miles Ahead" finally opened this weekend on two screens at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and the Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended quite nicely. I doubt that this movie is going score huge at the box office, but hopefully it'll find some legs at the art-house theater circuit. If you are curious to find out more about Miles Davis, or simply want to admire the stellar performance of Don Cheadle, you cannot go wrong with "Miles Ahead", be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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