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As the reviews of Miles Ahead amass on the Internet I'll be interested to read all the different ways people will have to describe Don Cheadle's electrifying performance as jazz great Miles Davis. Or should I say "social music" great, a term Mr. Davis preferred to jazz, according to this biopic. I'd never heard this term before, looked it up online after the movie ended, but couldn't find any definition that fit what I thought Mr. Davis might have meant. What it meant to me though, after being treated to a sumptuous sampling of Miles Davis music in the film, is that there's no better musical expression of the human soul than jazz if done right. In Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle seems to be able to relate to that. As for his portrayal of Miles Davis in general, he plays a man who lays everything on the line in everything he does. Total honesty. Total this feels right so I'm going to do it. No-bs, no-putting-up-with-bs attitude. From violence and crudeness to stunning beauty - this is humanity unadulterated. The movie's high points, to me, are the stunning beauty scenes - when Mr. Davis plays the horn. That is the culmination of everything.
Still, it's ironic that while Don Cheadle seems to get not only jazz, but the concept of creativity - starting off the movie with the Miles Davis quote "When you're creating your own sh**, man, even the sky ain't the limit" - Miles Ahead is limited by being formulaic. In other words, the movie itself is not jazz, though at times it tries to be and wants you to think it is. For example, there is too much clichéd man/woman relationship drama in the film, and while I get that Miles' love of women is necessary to portray for the all-important character development, Miles Ahead gets a little schmaltzy at times, if only because I'd seen the same kind of drama scenes more or less so many times before in so many Hollywood movies.
Overall, Miles Ahead is a passionate tribute, beautifully done, and the love that Don Cheadle had for the project and for Miles Davis really shines through.
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