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Cheadle Shines
gregsrants22 March 2016
The life and music of Miles Dewey Davis, better known as Miles Davis, is on display in the new bio-pic, Miles Ahead. Don Cheadle wears as many hats as afforded to him playing the title character as well as appearing in the credits as producer and director in a film that showcases Cheadle's talent and offers a strong case in ensuring the Oscar's have some color on the stage at next year's telecast.

The film opens in the later years of Miles' life. He has already reached fame and fortune. But his drug addiction has turned him into a Howard Hughes recluse. And he has temporarily turned his back on music. The story opens with Miles alone in his home when he is aggressively approached by Rolling Stone magazine writer Dave Brill (Ewan McGreggor) who is interested in writing about Miles' new project. The opportunistic Brill gets swept into a fantastical series of events that include following Miles as he confronts his record label, procures cocaine and is chased through the streets in a hail of gunfire by unscrupulous folk looking to advance their worldly standing through the theft of Miles' still-in-progress demo tape.

The events that unfold are not based on historical fact. But it doesn't matter. Miles Ahead is more a movie about the attitude and persona of legend Miles Davis than it is a straight up account of a fraction of the musician's life.

By way of flashbacks, we get a glimpse into the more serene life of Miles Davis before drugs off-tracked his career. A clean cut Davis is seen rising in ranks through the Jazz clubs of America and eventually falling for Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi) who would eventually become his wife of 10-years.

The film doesn't dive too deeply into the domestic violence between the two lovers that became headlines back in the early 60's nor does it touch too intensively the racial tensions in America at the time. There is a scene where Davis is unprovokingly harassed by police officers and taken to jail for simply showing kindness to a woman of white skin, but the film has no message to present in terms of Miles' involvement with racial divides at the time. Instead, Cheadle keeps the camera focused on a single day in the broken down icon's history. This works largely to the films advantage but sacrifices giving us a glimpse into the life of the historic character.

Don Cheadle is a revelation as Miles. The raspy voice, the trumpet playing, the belligerence. All are played exactly on key. The supporting cast does amply in tow but there is little to look at outside of Cheadle's performance.

For this particularly story, things do work out well in the end. Relatively. We had hoped for end credit title cards that would have told us more about the man. Those unfamiliar with Miles Davis might have wanted to know if he was still alive or what became of Frances Taylor after their split. Even a short blurb unveiling Miles' nine Grammy Awards would have been refreshingly educational at film's end.

Miles Ahead is not the be-all of musician movies. But I would categorize Cheadle's performance of the late trumpet player as one of the better performances of a real-life musician on screen. It's good enough to recommend the film to anyone. Jazz fan or not.
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a trippy trip of cool Miles
ferguson-614 April 2016
Greetings again from the darkness. What would rate as the bigger challenge: defining jazz or describing the life of Miles Davis? In true "passion project" mode, Don Cheadle not only portrays the iconic trumpeter, but also directs, co-writes and co-produces. Cheadle's tribute to The Prince of Darkness is as open to interpretation as the hundreds of songs from Davis' recordings over thirty plus years.

Having stated in numerous interviews that he had no interest in the usual "cradle-to-grave" biopic, Cheadle's odd blend of fact, fiction and hallucination are meant to capture the essence of Miles Davis, rather than the life and times of the man. Guns, drugs, music, girls, and art are all present throughout this trippy trip of a movie that plays like an impressionistic painting, and not a portrait.

The bulk of the film is spent on Miles Davis during his self-imposed six year drug-fueled hiatus in the 1970's when he secluded himself in Howard Hughes fashion. There is an odd and ill-fitting plot involving the "secret" master tapes that Davis has recorded while waiting for his manager (Michael Stuhlbarg as Harper Hamilton) to pay him the money he is owed. Mixed in is a "Rolling Stone" writer named Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor) desperately trying to get an interview with Miles and listen to the tapes. This mad caper-ish core benefits greatly from the quick cuts to the past … especially those featuring Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi) as Miles' beautiful, talented and supportive wife.

Of course, we shouldn't expect linear story-telling from a man whose life was anything but linear. After all, we are focused on the man who claimed his music was not "jazz", but rather "Social Music" … and that "it takes a long time to play like yourself". The car chases and gunfights might seem out of place, but do capture the essence of a man fueled by drugs and a possible (temporary) loss of his creative genius. Perhaps, as the movie suggests, Miles was remorseful for how he treated Frances. Or maybe it was simply the pressure of being Miles Davis …. The coolest of Cool Jazz.

Mr. Cheadle does a nice job in portraying Davis, and is spot on in the trademark raspy whisper which Miles was known for (the after-effects of a larynx operation in the 1950's). Ms. Corinealdi (to appear in the new "Roots" project later this year) is outstanding as Frances Taylor, and is the one character we latch on to in hopes of maintaining our bearings throughout.

Taking its title from a 1957 Miles Davis album, the movie offers a glimpse into the mind of a musical genius who didn't always fit into "proper" society, and would be the perfect pairing for a head-scratching trumpeter double-bill with the recent "Born to be Blue", a look at Chet Baker.
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Den Cheadle shines in Miles Davis movie (don't call it a bio-pic)
paul-allaer17 April 2016
"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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This Movie Misses The Mark By A Million Miles !
georgewilliamnoble26 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I really was looking foreword to this film, i love classic jazz and Miles Davis stands with Charlie Parker as the best of the best, but oh dear this film is just dreadful and on so many levels it is a disaster from first to last. Where to begin, well the films scrip and plot revolves round his Howard Hughes like recluse years when he withdrew from performing and casts what i believe to be a purely fictitious chase all over town after a stolen session tape, with a writer looking for a story hugging his heels.cue loads of bad language as Don Cheadle who has a passing resemblance to the jazz genius profanes crudely and engages in crazy gun fights and threatens all and sundry with a gun to there face. Now we know Miles Davis had a dark side but where is the evidence for this nonsense that seems straight out of a "blackspoiltation" B movie of the seventies complete with stilted dialogue glibly uttered. Clint Eastwood gave us "Bird" a masterful film on Charlie Parker, Miles Davis deserves a film of equal stature not this all together embarrassingly wooden fiction that is all together empty. At last over the end titles we get to listen to some Miles Davis jazz, i at least i enjoyed these moments as the small audience silently walked out.
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Miles Below
jencliff28 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Don Cheadle plays a good part as the young and older Miles Davis, Ewan McGregor as usual in my opinion is poor and an expert at dumbing down all of his roles. How does he get the work I ask myself ? I, My friend and I are keen Miles Davis fans, his wife is not, to quote her " I know less about Miles Davis than before I saw the film " The storyline is poor, only showing a a brief chapter of Mile's life when he retired for five years, and the record company " stole " his new tape. An episode of the Keystone cops ensues with car chases and gun toting ....... Very uncool, very unMiles. I don't believe a word of it. OK,be different,but to only mention one of his 3 wives ( and imply he only had one wife) is downright ridiculous, and not one word about any of his many children and grandchildren I mean ...... Really ! I was really looking forward to this film but we all left the movie " Kinda Blue "
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Not a film about Miles but a film straight from the heart of Miles -- Bravo!
barev-8509425 February 2016
MILES AHEAD --. World Premiere at Berlin 2016. Non competition special reviewed By Alex Deleon

An Incandescent reincarnation of legendary American Jazz Musician Miles Davis by Don Cheadle, directing, producing, playing trumpet, and playing Miles himself in bushy Afro hairdo in a multi-faceted one man tour de force. This very special biopic took the Paying non-professional German audience in the cavernous Friedrichstadt Palast by storm, arousing enthusiastic ten minute ovations (two of them! -- once at end of the film itself and again after the end credits finish rolling).

On stage after the screening Mr. Cheadle, a little guy (but a giant on screen, like Japanese samurai star Toshiro Mifune) was evidently taken aback by such an unexpectedly thunderous reception from a foreign audience which he acknowledged with extreme modesty. This is not exactly a full biopic in the ordinary sense of the word as it concentrates on a mere couple of days in the life of the black American jazz legend, but these are explosive enough to convey a full picture of the angry arrogant wound-up artist who lived behind the trumpet. Don Cheadle has come a light year in the movie business since his screen debut as a G.I. in the Viet Nam war film, Hamburger Hill, 1987, or Boogie Nights as a porn star opposite Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore in 1997.

In the press conference which preceded the screening Cheadle said that this film which he worked on for six years, learning to play the trumpet in the process, is practically a lifelong dream come true. He grew up on the music of Davis and ever since entering the business has had such a project in mind. However, in the event, he states that he did not want to make a film "about Miles Davis" but rather a film in the skin of Miles Davis, as if the gangsterlike trumpet virtuoso had come back to life to present himself in his own words. Speaking in the role with a typical negro mushy mouthed style identical to the way Miles actually spoke, not cleaned up for a middle class audience and foreign to the perfect "white" elocution that is natural to the black actor in every day life, this is a film that pulls no punches and is loaded to the gills with the F-word and the MF-word, translated into German in the subtitles as the much weaker "Wikser" (habitual masturbator) -- clearly German has no real equivalent for the standard American ebonic Mutha-f****r. No matter. Powerful unexpurgated trashy dialogue all the way and a fiery angry arrogant gun toting performance by Cheadle which accomplishes the artistic task he has set out for himself in this Magnum Opus of his Hollywood career.

The story Cheadle chooses to tell focuses on the period in Miles's life when, already a living legend but having been out of action for five years addicted to cocaine as well as booze, he is about to stage a comeback to perform once again live on stage. An extreme sleaseball of a Rolling Stone reporter (Ewan McGregor) comes knocking at his door demanding an interview, and will not take No for an answer even if this puts his own life at stake. Obviously at this point in his fame and notoriety any live interview with Miles Davis would make the career of any obtrusive little known jerk of a journalist. The Rolling Stoner works his way into Miles' marginally "good graces" by supplying him with oodles of Coke and becomes his companion in a wild run around town to recover a private tape of Davis's latest music from a bunch of sleazy music producers who have commandeered it. The background music is largely from the best selling Davis album "Sketches of Spain" and we see Cheadle actually blowing trumpet in flashbacks. Along The way we learn that Miles did not like the term Jazz for his music -- "I make "Social Music" he says pointedly in the picture -- and we also see that he can play the piano and is very familiar with modern classic composers such as Stravinsky and Eric Satie. No musical slouch, Mr. Miles Davis! But when confronting the A-holes who have stolen his music he waves a menacing gun at them and we have little doubt that he will use it if necessary. In this compact segment from a desperately lived life Cheadle even finds time for a little romance in the person of a beautiful black actress with the tongue twister name, Emayatzy Corninealdi, who accompanied Don to Berlin.

Over All the film is very violent with a few tender moments between Cheadle and Corinealdi, and a jittery hand held camera may throw some viewers off in spots but reflect the hectic pace of the chase. Pic ends up with Cheadle/Davis back on stage blowing his axe in patented inimitable Milesian style. Miles Davis died in 1991 at age 65 universally recognized as one of the most influential and innovative American musicians of the XXth century, jazz or-nojazz. Unquestionable Oscars in 2017 when the pic will become eligible for consideration.
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Fun Hallucinatory Biopic
JasonT4133 October 2017
Don Cheadle Directs Himself as Miles Davis, Nice Job on what If I remember correctly is his directorial debut. The film ping-pongs back and forth from the early 80's, right before Miles comes back from a 5 year or so hiatus to the 50's/60's era when he was married to dancer Frances Taylor.

The film has a madcap side to it with Ewan Mcgregor in a fun turn as a Rolling Stone reporter out to interview Miles and almost doubling as Miles' sidekick in a romp through the city (New York?) in the early 80's.

I don't want to give much away but I recommend the film, it is pretty amusing and jazz + biopic fans will find much to enjoy!
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Jumbled and Alienating
Danusha_Goska23 April 2016
"Miles Ahead" is chaotically put together, difficult to follow, and difficult to care about. Miles Davis (Don Cheadle), the main character, is depicted as a repugnant human being. The film plays shopworn musician biopic tricks in nasty ways to manipulate the audience. In interviews, Don Cheadle has said that he needed to get a big white star to appear in the film, and thus he built the film around the MacGuffin of Davis being interviewed by Ewan McGregor, allegedly the big white star. My guess is that Cheadle's funding didn't come through not because he is a black actor playing a black musician. My guess is that the funding was hard to find because the script was not a commercial script, no matter the color of the main character.

The film opens with a confusing mishmash of images. Miles Davis is being interviewed. We don't see the interviewer. There is film in the background of the Jack Johnson fight. This confused me. I know the fight took place over a hundred years ago and I did not know that anyone filmed it – meaning I was losing focus on the movie I was watching, and drawn into thinking about the movie in the movie. Not a good thing.

The scene is shot in extreme close-up. We see Don Cheadle's mouth and fingers as he smokes a cigarette; we also see an ashtray. This extreme close-up gives the film a claustrophobic feeling. As the film went on I began to wonder if the tight close-ups were used because there wasn't enough of a budget to create a set that reflected the time periods of the film: the 1970s and the 1950s.

The unseen interviewer asks Davis about jazz. Davis interrupts the interviewer and commands, "Don't call my music jazz." He insists that calling his music "jazz" stereotypes it. That's one of the dumbest and most petulant things I've ever heard a character say. Of course Miles Davis was a jazz musician. Ordering someone not to call jazz jazz is the demand of a petty dictator who wants control of language. The film was just beginning and I already hated the main character. And I was really sick of all that focus on his cigarette and his ashtray.

Ewan McGregor, the big white star meant to offer his magical powers to get purportedly rich whites to underwrite the movie and buy tickets to see it, shows up as Dave, a Rolling Stone reporter. He knocks on Miles Davis' door. Davis opens the door and immediately sucker punches Dave, a visitor he has never met. At this point, the film has offered me no reason to like Miles Davis, and lots of reasons to dislike him. There's more. He has a receding hairline and he wears his hair long – an older man's unsuccessful attempt to look young. And he dresses like a blind pimp. He's wearing a hip-length, turquoise and black jacket made of fabric best reserved for upholstery in houses of ill repute.

Davis has already proved he's cool by sucker punching a white man. He also proves he's cool in other cheap, manipulative ways. The film consists of a jumble of scenes shot in the 1970s and flashbacks to the 1950s. In the 1950s scene, Davis is in a car with a young white woman. The young white woman behaves foolishly. The young black woman in the front scene rolls her eyes at this white girl's buffoonery. So, Davis is cool because he can get a white girl.

The car pulls up to a house. A very beautiful young black woman is on the street. This is Frances Taylor, whom Davis will marry. He asks his white date for a twenty dollar bill. She gives him one. He writes his phone number on the bill and hands it to the black girl. Again, Davis is cool because he can mistreat white people, in this case a woman.

In more jumbled together, plot-less scenes, we see Frances dancing. She is exquisitely beautiful and the camera adores her. We see Frances and Davis making love. We don't see Miles Davis beating his wife. He did. He also made her quit her dancing career. What a guy.

More jumbled, plot-less scenes whose only point is to show what a boss Miles Davis really was, because he could mistreat white people. Miles Davis marches in to the offices of Columbia records. There is a man there who is obviously meant to be Jewish. He is smarmy and oily and condescending and power trips Davis. Davis pulls out a gun and shoots at him. He takes the man's money and uses that money, in a subsequent scene, to purchase cocaine, from yet another worshipful, star-struck white man he mistreats, while a white girl, partially undressed, sits on a bed. Davis, of course, must tell her to move over so he can sit next to her.

You get the idea.

What the movie does not show you is that Miles Davis grew up comfortable and privileged. Davis' father was a dentist who owned a couple of homes and a ranch. His mother was a musician. Davis received music lessons as a teenager, on daddy's dime. Davis was no gangster. He was a brat and a creep and an abuser of himself and others. I learned nothing about his appeal or his talent from this movie.
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Definitely worth seeing, whether you're a big Miles Davis fan or not.
Hellmant17 March 2017
'MILES AHEAD': Four Stars (Out of Five)

A mostly fictional biopic on jazz music legend Miles Davis, starring Don Cheadle as Davis. Cheadle also directed the movie (marking his feature film directorial debut), and he co-wrote the script as well; with Steven Baigelman (who also wrote the recent James Brown music biopic 'GET ON UP'), Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson (Rivele and Wilkinson have also co-written other hit biopics, like 'NIXON', 'ALI' and 'PAWN SACRIFICE'). The film also costars Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi and Michael Stuhlbarg. It received a limited indie theatrical release in theaters, and it's gotten mostly positive reviews from critics (although not that positive). I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

The story takes place at multiple different times in Miles Davis's (Cheadle) life, and it jumps around between them. The bulk of the film takes place in the 70s, and it revolves around a fictional adventure that Davis goes on, in an attempt to get a stolen tape recording back (of his recent music) from a greedy record producer (Stuhlbarg). He has help from an ambitious music reporter (McGregor). The movie also heavily focuses on Davis's troubled relationship with his wife (Corinealdi).

I'm not a big fan of biopics (because of how aimless, long and boring they often are) but I enjoyed this movie, because it's not a traditional biopic. A lot of the film is more like a fictional caper flick, with Miles Davis in it, and I think that makes for a much more entertaining movie (as a result). Cheadle is also fantastic in the lead, and he shows a lot of talent as a director here. I think the film is definitely worth seeing, whether you're a big Miles Davis fan or not.

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Ingenious film reflects Miles Music and Art
ElliottSmall13 October 2015
Absolutely stunning! Attended the world premiere at the NewYork film festival this past weekend. As the film ended, my mind felt entranced. The film's rapid clip style and dramatic ending made me film as if I had viewed one of Mile's mind blowing paintings. Somehow, it all seemed to come together as one mental image at the end. An ingenious portrayal of both Miles music and painting style. Along with the fabulous music throughout, the movie even included a clip of miles working on one of his paintings, as if the cue us in on the films approach.

The music of Miles Davis provides the background for many of the scenes and it is performed in many scenes. As Miles was also an accomplished abstract painter, he is also featured creating some of his artwork. His challenges, triumphs and failures in love, the music industry, music composition, health, etc. compose a collage that comes together like one of his abstract paintings. At the end, a stunning scene brings it all together and emphasizes the phenomenal impact of the Miles music through today, for all time, and across many genres.
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Miles deserves better, just O.K.
Miles Ahead (2016) 1hr. 40 min.

Miles Davis is one of the best jazz musicians of all time. Davis was one of those musicians that really conveyed great talented passion and emotion in his trumpet playing. Miles made a great album in particular his 1959 masterpiece" Kind of Blue". Which Rolling Stone magazine voted it as one of the best albums of all time, regardless of genre of music. His life should've been made ages ago, unfortunately it took 2016 for a Davis film to be made, with Don Cheadle playing the great musician and also making his directorial debut.

The film takes place in 1980, where Davis hasn't made an album in five years and has recorded on but does not want the album released without his permission. He would prefer to snort his new drug of choice, cocaine than work on any releasable music. He is also hates to do interviews but a persistent one from Rolling Stone writer Dave (Ewan McGregor) who wants desperately to interview the legend and follows him to his record company at Columbia records and talks to a the President of Columbia, Harper (Michael Stahlberg) whose ethics are not honorable and demands Dave to coax Davis to send his most recent work to work with a talented musician (Keith Stansfield), who is also a junkie heroin addict. The one drug that Davis was once addicted to. Miles has no desire to give his boss anything and threatens his boss with a gun to leave him the hell alone.

Dave decides to take matters into his own hands with questionable ethics, to get his dream of an interview with a legend and says he know someone who can give him good coke. On the basis of drug use they become good friends. The first part of the movie is about a cat and mouse game of Davis music recording becomes of tug of war of who has the upper hand in who will eventually get Davis most recent recording. Another main subplot is more interesting is the relationship between Davis and his greatest love and muse Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corlneaidi) which takes place in the 1950's. The film deals with their courtship, marriage and Davis wanting Frances to give up her career as a dancer when they marry. To all of the predictable, nonetheless interesting because it is well acted are the relationships of Davis girlfriends and his infidelity and his addiction to a drug that makes him paranoid. The film contends that the relationship with Frances gave him the greatest creative musical prowess and his music was at its great peak when Davis dated and married Frances.

The film other subplot is also not very original but the car chase sequences back and forth between Davis and Dave vs. Harper and is crooked associate's is not very interesting and lacking in energy. Miles Davis deserved a better treatment in a subplot that is right out of the many car chases we have seen in the movies since the standard of car chases in the great 1971 action cop movie The French Connection. A car chase still can be entertaining if those scenes can offer something thrilling, this film action scenes are rather dull and pointless. The other love story is predictable but well-acted with Corlnealdi a standout as Davis's greatest love. Don Cheadle is very good as the great trumpeter, I just wish it was in a movie that dealt with a more interesting story of Davis life, maybe coming to terms with his coke addiction and his marriage to the great actress Cicely Tyson. Cheadle does a very good job of directing his first feature, but as it stands, more should have been made of his personal struggles with addiction and more of the great jazz that people love with great intensity.
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A Social Movie
LeonardHaid20 March 2016
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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Music great, disappointing film.
a-fawcett61628 April 2016
This film had wonderful music, but I thought it incoherent and self-indulgent. If someone who doesn't know a lot about jazz, and thinks this film would be a good place to start, they will probably be put off, and worse, will deduce that many jazz musicians are druggies and nasty people.

It isn't a biopic. It is a sketch of a very small part of Miles' life. Even though I know he was a difficult person, this film emphasized the negatives in his personality rather than the positives.

It is a wasted opportunity to make a memorable film about this great musician.
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social story
lee_eisenberg21 August 2016
Don Cheadle's Miles Davis biography is a fictionalized look at the jazz great's drugged-out period in the 1970s. "Miles Ahead" depicts the man (whom Cheadle also plays) as a damaged genius. Watching Ewan McGregor's reporter try to interview Davis, I got the feeling that Davis didn't want to be viewed as a celebrity, resulting in his reclusive phase. Moreover, he insisted that people call his music not jazz, but social music.

The movie is worth seeing. I guess that the limited focus and fictionalized story weaken it. The only look at race relations is when a cop turns aggressive after watching Davis escort a white woman to a car. But for the most part, this is a fine piece of work. It looks as though Davis was truly a complex character, even if he did have a not-so-nice side. I'll have to listen to his music to see what I think. After all, when you create your own s**t, not even the sky's the limit.

Worth seeing.
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As the tagline suggests, A story best told with attitude.
SpoilerAlertReviews28 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Whether you're a fan of 'jazz' music or not, you can't escape or deny knowing what/who Miles Davis was. Unless of course, you're of a certain young generation that hasn't discovered him yet. It'll come, and Don Cheadle will help do exactly that with this semi-fictional biopic of the legendary yet destructive great.

You can tell Don Cheadle has put his heart and soul into his project, writing, directing and starring himself as the Prince of Darkness. He tells a tall story of Miles Davis during his hermit years in the mid seventies when he rested for five years whilst ignoring everyone, reporters and his contract obligations with Columbia Records.

It's not about how Miles Davis came about, it's not about his climb to fame and fortune or his education and early friendships with greatness. It's not about his death, in any way which is refreshing. But it is about a story with attitude, and attitude is something both Davis and this film has as the tag line suggests.

The story gives great opportunity in displaying Davis' darker, nastier side and his self- destructive nature which wasn't a big secret. However you might grow to like his bad attitude and being to understand why.

Ewan McGregor's cunning yet fictional reporter seems to be the anchor whilst the story flips between flashbacks and he can almost be mistaken as a figure of Davis' imagination, almost like a fight club. "First rule of jazz club..." McGregor does good, and good in not drawing too much spotlight off our star. It's good they have chosen up and coming actors to co-star like Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michael Stuhlbarg (Steve Jobs) and Keith Stanfield (Selma). All of them playing exceptional parts. They're certainly people to watch out for.

It's brilliant and especially for Don Cheadle's Directorial debut, it's well shot, well paced and edited, it's almost trippy, loaded with snippets of Miles' trademark sound which you might come to appreciate if not already doing so. Just remember, it's not just about the music but more about him. Cheadle has done what James Mangold/Joaquín Phoenix did for Johnny Cash. #socialmusic

Running Time: 9 The Cast: 9 Performance: 9 Direction: 7 Story: 7 Script: 8 Creativity: 7 Soundtrack: 8 Job Description: 8 The Extra Bonus Points: 5 for Don Cheadle, he does good in every aspect.

77% 8/10
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Great performances, sketchy script! 5/10
leonblackwood14 October 2016
Review: Don Cheadle was definitely born to play Miles Davis, and the fact that Cheadle really did play the instruments throughout the movie, was an added bonus but the storyline was all over the place and you don't really get an insight into the man who was a musical genius. I liked the chemistry between Cheadle and Ewan McGregor, who played a writer called Dave Braden and Emayatzy Corinealdi played Frances Taylor, Miles Davis wife, extremely well. The film is based around a 5 year period, when Miles Davis stopped recording and he went on a downhill spiral, due to drugs, depression and violence. You don't really get to hear much of his music throughout the movie, and the constant flashbacks, spoilt the flow of the film. I was hoping to get a reason why Miles Davis had such a bad attitude and destructive behaviour but the director chose to stick to certain events that happened during that period. His troubled relationship with Frances, and heavy drug taking, played a big part in his constant paranoia and the way that he lived his life on the edge but the one thing that people loved him for, was his music. Personally, I was hoping for more from this movie, mainly because there hasn't been a film which has documented his life but with that aside, you can't fault the brilliant performance from Cheadle, who was the perfect candidate for this role. Average!

Round-Up: Don Cheadle, 51, wrote, directed and produced this movie, and he put together the cast and budget, which must have been hard to do, as he was playing the lead. This is the first movie that he has directed, so he definitely jumped in at the deep end, by playing a musical icon. He also produced Crash, Talk To Me, Darfur Now, Traitor, The Guard and St. Vincent, which I found quite funny. His first movie as an actor, was in Hamburger Hill, in 1987, and he has starred in some successful films like Colors, Devil in a Blue Dress, Boogie Nights, Out of Sight, Traffic, Ocean's Eleven franchise, Hotel Rwanda, Crash, Reign Over Me, Brooklyn's Finest, Iron Man franchise, Flight and the Avengers franchise, so it isn't surprising that he has decided to turn to directing. For his first project, he certainly done a good job, in terms of putting in a brilliant performance but the script could have done with some structure and depth.

Budget: $345,000 Worldwide Gross: $4.8million

I recommend this movie to people who are into their biography/music/dramas, starring Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Keith Stanfield, Michael Stuhlbarg, Christina Marie Karis and Morgan Wolk. 5/10
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Polls show that more than 95% of Americans cannot tell a Miles Davis piece . . .
oscaralbert27 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
. . . from a work of Thelonius Monk. So Mr. Davis might be MILES AHEAD of Mr. Monk, but that means about as much to the average Joe as the Ethiopians who finished MILES AHEAD of him in last week's Boston Marathon. When you look beyond the snippets of muted trumpet doodles totally interchangeable for the average U.S. citizen, does the movie watcher REALLY wind up MILES AHEAD here? The drug addict at the center of this story is supposed to be a sympathetic character because he comes out on the short end of a boxing bout with his wife, as she leaves him with a crippling hip injury. Since he habitually shoots up business offices and urban streets with terrible aim (perhaps resulting from his injury and heavy drug use), the authorities need a warrant for Mr. Davis' guns in order to solve some of the cold cases involving by-standers fatally struck down with stray bullets. When heavy drug use, abuse of women, and being a general Menace to Society are considered Role Model Material, you just know that America is Doomed!
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Furlongs Ahead
writers_reign24 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Anyone interested in a film about a real, hugely gifted, but seriously flawed jazz musician and directed by an actor should check out 'Bird', a more or less straightforward account of Charlie Parker directed by Clint Eastwood and one that is light years rather than miles ahead of this ego trip by Don Cheadle. It's difficult to see exactly who Cheadle is targeting here. Most people who like jazz and many with only a nodding acquaintance with the art form identify Davis as 1) a slightly eccentric performer (I saw him in concert once and he played for something like two hours without speaking a word, with his back to the audience the whole time and without acknowledging applause or identifying any of the dozen or so numbers he played) or, 2) an innovator with an 'introspective' trumpet style, widely identified with 'the birth of the cool' largely via an iconic album 'Kinda Blue'. Not much, if indeed any of this comes through in Cheadle's ego trip. Instead he gives us a Davis in a fallow period long after his early success and when he has been away from jazz for several years and is devoting his time to the pursuit and ingestion of cocaine. For good measure Cheadle introduces an entirely fictitious reporter for Rolling Stone who is looking for an 'angle' on Davis. Ewan McGregor is about as convincing as a reporter as Elton John would be as Ghandi and it is by far the worst performance of McGregor's career. Trumpet Blues indeed.
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Miles Ahead is an Unconventional Music Biopic That Shows Don Cheadle's Skills as an Actor and a Director
CANpatbuck366423 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
From what I understand this was a passion project for Don Cheadle. He pounded the pavement, got financing from numerous sources and finally got the movie made. I read a little bit about Miles Ahead after I saw it and Don was very insistent on making this a different kind of story about Miles Davis. I'll go into it in more detail later in the review but I would say he succeeded completely, he delivers a fresh perspective on the genre and one that has stylistic touches you would expect from a much more experienced director.

*Minor Spoilers Ahead* Sometime in the late 1970s Miles Davis (Don Cheadle) is trying to get by and work on a new album. The studio (Columbia Records) is tired of waiting and has cut off the allowance they have been sending him. This irritates him and that doesn't help as he's been reminiscing about his past love Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi). All of a sudden there's a knock at the door and a reporter from Rolling Stone named Dave Braden (Ewan McGregor) forces his way in. He wants to do the Miles Davis comeback story and he won't take no for an answer. This leads to Davis punching him in the face. After a while, Davis gets tired of this and decides to go see Columbia who Braden claims set the interview up. On the way there, Davis is less than forthcoming about his life, irritating the crap out of Braden. They get there and the studio tells him that they will not release anymore money until they get the session tapes from the recording sessions at his house. Davis refuses still and after he leaves, one of the executives named Harper (Michael Stuhlbarg) offers money for whoever can steal the recordings from Davis' house. Miles is infuriated and is ready to get rid of Dave until Dave promises to score him some coke.

While most of the reviews of Miles Ahead have been positive, most of the praise has gone to Don Cheadle for his performance as Miles Davis. I would agree that he does such a great job. You forget that it's Don playing Miles Davis. I'm not familiar with Davis' work or his life for that matter but for a guy that had a lot of awful aspects to his personality, you still want to follow him and see what's going to happen to him next. This is due to the excellent performance from Don. Emayatzy Corinealdi was also good, she has a strength as Frances and it's hard to watch her give up her dream and deal with Miles Davis because of the confidence in her performance. Ewan McGregor paired with Don Cheadle really well, it's fun to watch them together and even though his character is fictional, he's necessary as the audience avatar to witness Davis' increasingly erratic behaviour. The only downside when it comes to the acting was Michael Stuhlbarg as Harper the music executive. Stuhlbarg is a good actor but his character isn't terrible subtle, he may as well have had BAD GUY written on his forehead.

What makes this movie different from the conventional music biopic is that they deal with the time line in a different way. Instead of focusing on Miles Davis' entire career, it's just the two periods of it. Some people have complained that it takes liberties with the truth and I'm not going to disagree. Certain parts of the movie feel like they stretched the truth and dramatized things but it didn't bother me really. This genre has become very formulaic, to the point where it's being parodied and joked about. I was just so happy to see something with a different take on a musician's career. The movie was actually exciting and the gangster style the story took made it interesting.

Despite it being only somewhat rooted in reality, there's a lot of little things that make Miles Ahead better than the standard biopic. The way the movie transitions between scene to scene is actually like a lot of Miles' music, it's full of style and unpredictable. The movie also has a big dose of his music and they use it well. Miles Ahead also has some pretty great dialogue, there's some really good lines that come from Miles Davis and I always appreciate when a movie can find some humour to liven things up.

I had a feeling that this movie would be good but I was surprised at how different the movie was. You can tell it was shot on the cheap but the cinematography was decent and the grainy feel even helped get you into the time period. It wasn't groundbreaking and it might not have been a substitute for a documentary but I was willing to enjoy it for what it was. This is a different type of story and it delivered a different kind of experience. If you're not too attached to a 100% accurate retelling of the Miles Davis story, I think you'll enjoy this quite a bit.
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Cheadle Brings It Home
rzajac11 December 2016
Lots of user reviews saying "Miles Ahead" ("MA") attempts to elevate filmic cubistic hash to high art... and fails. I don't think he fails.

Cheadle made his decisions, and stuck with 'em. He decided to go with a groundwork of a slice of Miles's life during a lost period, punctuated with flashbacks, and the whole thing riven with sudden, jarring, splintered, surreal touches. Worked for me.

Other factors. Heard 5h1t said about McGregor, but I think he was pitch perfect... and I figure he took direction well from Cheadle. Though one never knows. Loved Cheadle's direction; warm, direct, honest; and yet also with a touch of caricature here and there.

Technically, it's a delight. The colors are intentionally stark and bright, the camera-work is great, the music is great. By now, there's no excuse for the film representation of musicianship not to feel genuine, convincing, inspiring. The edits are expert, the pacing just fine.

There are countless moments which showcase a view of Miles as a deeply feeling man. This is a wonderful counterpoint to pop, post-modern, swanky press representations of Davis as a guy with a lizard soul. I love that Cheadle did that. There's a moment when Miles lovingly caresses the shoulder of his pianist as he walks by (Evans?). The lovingness and respectfulness of that moment filled my own heart. It's kinda funny: I often hold myself back from movies that are trying to reach out to push my buttons. There was something about the way Cheadle manages the tone of his portrayal--and that's through the entire movie, not just moment-by-moment--that invited me to open up and feel those moments of connection *with* his Davis.

Anyway... Great film product! Lots of fun to watch. Nice balance of menace and connection.

Check it out
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Miles Davis as... blaxploitation bad-ass (some of the time(?) Sure, why not?
Quinoa198426 April 2016
I don't know how much of this movie is true. If you asked me in my heart of hearts, I don't really care to know - it'd be nice if it's ALL true, even the parts that are wildly outrageous and show Miles Davis as at times a super bad-ass like out of a Jack Hill movie or a character rising in the ranks of a Rudy Ray Moore vehicle (only a good actor, a really good one, and a good writer/director which helps) - and that's fine. It IS just a movie after all, and Cheadle understands as an actor for many years, and here a director, what an image can project: for most of this storyline Davis is in his 70's crazy-hair mode, all by himself in his massive apartment in New York city, sometimes on coke, sometimes not, and he'll dress sharp while distancing himself (though still projecting his "cool") in giant glasses. It's a similar thing as Elvis in the Elvis/Nixon movie from this month, only here it's not commented on so strongly.

I think the question people have going in is that 'this looks a little rougher and rawer, is it a typical biopic?' Yes and no. Yes in that the flashbacks, which show Miles' other obsession with his wife Frances (a very good Emayatzy Corinealdi, she holds her own in a mostly male cast sometimes with just a look like 'seriously?' like when Miles asks her to stop dancing and only be her husband). It's one of those love stories that you know will go south by nature of who Davis was, and in that sense it's not much different than many of the other biopics that involve a love story where things go south - it was other women (many others), and Cheadle maybe knows this and makes it obvious from the start: she sees Francis from across a street in a car while already with another woman and gets a 20 just to write his number down. Peachy!

To say Miles Davis was a groundbreaking artist and influential to upteenth thousands (tens of thousands, or more) musicians and other artists all over is something that is distant in the background but, wisely, is never stated. It doesn't have to be, and though Miles Davis liked the spotlight and attention he didn't need it or ever craved it. He played and played with other people (Gil Evans, Coltrane - how he found him and his telling of it is a brief aside in this movie that is perfect - Bill Evans, and so on), and people came to see him, but he didn't need to play for anyone, ever. But when it came to that one reel of tape, in the scope of this story, it becomes more about flexing his bad-assery to anyone around, including Ewan McGregor's journalist (think of End of the Tour if it was directed in the 70's by Jack Hill or something, and you get the idea).

So some of this is conventional, but it's mostly the flashbacks and, at the least, they are directed and acted with a go-for-broke fire that makes it watchable. The main storyline, however, is just awesome; Davis took s*** from no one, and yet there's a humbling/vulnerable factor to how Cheadle plays him and how Davis was; he had a hip problem and had to take a lot of pills, which messed with his mind (we see some of this unfold in the flashbacks, but also in the 'present' time it's set in the 70's), and so he walks with a limp. He never plays it too hard though, and Cheadle owning it in Davis makes it all the more compelling: like, 'yeah, I'm Miles Davis, f*** you, give me my (insert more streams of mother-effer) tape!

It may turn off those who only see it as a passion project, but I saw a lot more in it - crazy intensity, and a rhythm to the cutting and camera-work that made it more like a thriller than a typical rise-and-fall saga. Though I wish it were even better - it has the potential to be among the great jazz movies, not unlike the recent Born to be Blue, which also featured Davis - it's an entertaining ride through 70's-drenched paranoid, don't-give-a-f*** bravura filmmaking and style.
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Imaginative, Innovative, and Unique Take on the Genre
LeonLouisRicci20 August 2016
Miles away from a Bio-Pic. Don Cheadle's Labor of Love is a Hallucinatory and Jazzy Film Entertainment that is Extraordinary.

Instead of Attempting Another Artistic and Flawed Genius Artist Run-Through, Cheadle Avoids the Usual Narrative, Creator Clichés that Inhabit the Personalities of such Artists in the Majority. Some are Seen here, but that's not the Point.

First-Time Director Cheadle decides to make an Improvisational Send-Up of a Short, Fallow Period in the Trumpeter's Life and the Chaotic, Bizarre, Forces that Invaded at the Time. Ewan McGregor is OK as a Fictional Writer/Companion.

Flashbacks are Used to Show a more Easygoing and Cool Flow through Creative and Prolific Eras. Cheadle is Innovative with His Editing and Shows Signs of Command and Imagination of His Own.

The Movie is Best Viewed with Certain Givens. No Superstar of Miles Davis Stature, Longevity, Influence, and Artistry can Ever be Fully Understood or Comprehensive in a Two-Hour Entertainment. That can be done with Multi-Chapter Documentaries running many Hours. This is not that and Never Pretends to be anything more than a Riff on Reality.

The Music is here in Snippets and the Feel for the Man's Chops Wash Over and Under the Film. The Result is a Unique take on the Genre, a Hazy Look at the Man, and Punctuated with a Sampling of what made Miles Davis so Revered and Special...His Music.
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Fortunately, the ending is so well done that it salvages the good in the film.
texshelters6 July 2016
Miles Ahead: the Film's Ending Saves Davis

Miles Ahead is an interesting take on the life of the jazz master. It's not a standard biopic telling a tale of the rise, then fall, then rebirth of an artist. Miles Ahead starts toward the end of his career when he is 'taking a break' from performing and recording. We learn that Davis has a deal with Colombia Records to start recording again, but he has yet to follow up when the film starts.

Several plot lines run throughout the film. However, the only one that is fully explored is his marriage. It runs the standard arc of plots with an introduction, conflict, plot points and resolution. The other stories within this film are not so successfully explored.

We have an idea why Davis took time off, but we don't get the full picture of his talents and his method for writing. More time spent on his work and less time with his interactions with the record label and the Rolling Stone magazine writer would have made this film more profound and enjoyable.

Don Cheadle is excellent at embodying the conflicts of the artist. It is not a salute to an idol, it is a full exposé, the talent, his influence, his trouble working with others, his addictions, and his struggle with fame. Davis at once hates his fame and desires to focus on the music while also uses it to get what he wants and to manipulate others. It's his love-hate relationship with his stardom that is the crux of the film in like of his past. However, the film doesn't go deep enough to satisfy your regular audience member that knows little about the man.

A major problem with the film is that while is does well in presenting the marriage and his conflicts with his fame, it also stupidly tries to be an action film. The relationship with the Rolling Stone writer just distracts from the heart of the story and plays out like a Three Stooges bit. Ewan McGregor is out of place as writer Dave Brill and can't bring enough charisma to the screen to make it work. The plot line with the writer is an annoying distraction from the acting of Cheadle and the struggles of an artist.

Thus, for all its good, and it has a lot of good, I only recommend two-thirds of the film. Fortunately, the ending is so well done that it salvages the good in the film.

Rating: Matinée

Cheadle is excellent at playing Davis, but his poor writing and directing decisions detract from what is an otherwise interesting film about a master musician.

Peace, Tex Shelters
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jazz take on the biopic
SnoopyStyle21 September 2016
It's the late 70's. Jazz musician Miles Davis (Don Cheadle) has stopped publishing new works. He is constantly taking drugs, filled with regrets, and living alone. Reporter Dave Braden (Ewan McGregor) forces his way into his home and eventually befriends him. Mile's record producer steals his tape and he sets off to get it back with a gun. There are also flashbacks of earlier days when Miles is married to Frances Taylor. He often cheated on her as their marriage deteriorated.

Don Cheadle took the jazz music to heart. This is a rambling story that takes some unusual turns. The flashbacks are more traditional. Cheadle delivers a great performance as usual. Its freeflowing style does feel aimless for the first half. It's hard to feel the flow or the direction. It does turn into a weird thriller after the tape gets stolen. It's an interesting idea to change up the traditional biopic but I don't find it successful.
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This is really good but the real reason to watch is for Don Cheadle. He gives a career defining performance
cosmo_tiger18 July 2016
"Don't call me music jazz, it's social music." Health complications has forced Miles Davis (Cheadle) into a type of forced retirement. When Rolling Stone reporter Dave Braden (McGregor) shows up to interview Miles Dave is met with resistance. He begins to see just how crazy Miles really is, and then when one of Miles' private recordings goes missing he really gets a taste of the mad genius that is one of the greatest musical minds of all time. This is a different type of bio-pic. Like the special features say this is not a cradle to the grave movie, its a heist movie involving Miles Davis. As weird as that sounds it really works and breathes new life into this genre. That said Cheadle really inhabits this person. He co-wrote, directed and starred in this and really hits it out of the park on all three. The movie flows like Miles' music. It is very loose and not structured like a normal film is but it works and you wonder why everyone can't do things like this. The movie is really good but the real reason to watch is for Don Cheadle. He gives a career defining performance and I would not be surprised to see him nominated for many awards for this movie. Overall, a movie much like Miles' music, at first you are trying to catch up to what is going on but when you finally settle in you just sit back and enjoy watching the madness unfold. I recommend this. I give this a high B.
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