Published on April 22nd, 2016 | by Neil Jordan0
Greetings & Salutations Fellow Movie Fanatics!
If you’ve ever found yourself in a coffee shop, bookstore, or perhaps even a jazz club in the 21st century you can’t NOT have heard either the name ‘Miles Davis’, his music, or perhaps both. If you’ve been living under a rock your whole life and by some miracle you have a smartphone, computer, or a radio find a jazz station and it’s almost a sure thing you’ll here his music within minutes. The man is no myth although the man and his music are so legendary there is almost a mythical presence to him. He is one of the greats. No question. No argument.
‘Miles Ahead’ is a biopic about the legendary jazz musician directed by and staring Don Cheadle who also co-wrote the film with Steven Baigelman, Christopher Wilkinson, and Steven J. Rivele.
Emayatzy Corinealdi, Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Keith Stanfield. Rather than focus on the entire life of the great jazz musician which could encompass several films and take up an entire archive, the film focuses mainly on a period in Davis’s life where he is living in relative seclusion in his home in New York City after having retreated from the public spotlight five years previously. Miles endeavors to begin recording and playing music once again after combating addictions to alcohol and cocaine which he indulged in to deal with his wife leaving him and the heavy stress brought upon him by a loss of inspiration to compose music. At about this same time ‘Rolling Stone’ reporter Dave Braden (McGregor), a borderline paparazzi of the time but not quite, calls upon Davis begging him to let him write about Davis’s great comeback. After several futile attempts on the part of Braden, Davis reluctantly agrees after Braden introduces him to a new dealer willing to supply him with high-grade cocaine. What follows is something thats almost out of a Hunter S. Thompson book as the two attempt to recover a demo tape of Davis’s most recent recordings from a low level gangster/manager/agent who stole the from Davis’s home. Amongst the drugs and the booze and the gun fights and car chases there are brief flashbacks into Miles’s past where he relives times good and bad with his wife Frances (Corinealdi). How they met, how they lived, and how she inspired some of his greatest works through her graceful dancing and their mutual love for classical music like Eric Satie, Chopin, and Stravinsky and how he eventually lost her due to his addictions and indulgences.
For such a brief glimpse into the life of one of music’s greatest, the movie was quite well done. It was clearly a labor of love for Mr. Cheadle who had his hands in nearly every aspect of the movie and went so far as to learn to play the trumpet so he could actually play the music himself in the movie. The actor, who is amongst the best and most underrated of our time, reportedly spent six years making this film. The background music is mostly comprised of tracks from arguably one of Davis’s best albums ‘Sketches Of Spain’ and selections of his work is played by Cheadle himself. It’s sometimes difficult to tell whether the movie is more about the music or the man himself. Does it honestly matter though? In many ways, they’re one in the same are they not? The movie is rated R for scenes with violence, adult language, and intimate scenes. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars. The only negative thing I have to say about is that I wish there had been more about the life of the man. His beginnings. Like when he was accepted into the Juilliard School of Music in New York only to drop out. His days spent jamming with Charlie Parker. Again, that would encompass far more time than one would consider ‘feasible’ for a movie.
All in all though, a great film if your a fan of Miles Davis and jazz or as he preferred to call it ‘Social Music’. ‘Miles Ahead’ hits theaters April 1st. Catch it at the theater’s with great sound set-ups. It goes great with the music.
This is your friendly neighborhood photographer ‘The CameraMan’ and on behalf of myself and my fellows at ‘Skewed & Reviewed’ I’d like to say thanks for reading and we’ll see you at the movies.