Don Cheadle's big screen directorial debut... Miles Ahead. Truth is, I love Miles Davis's music but I know precious little about the man himself. I own copies of Kind of Blue, Birth of Cool, You're Under Arrest, and Bitches Brew. I don't have the album they refer to most in this movie, so I'm going to have to cop Sketches of Spain.
Steven Baigelman (Get on Up) - Co-Writer
Don Cheadle (Talk to Me, Avengers, Devil in a Blue Dress) - Miles Davis
***Cheadle also Co-Writes, Directs, and Produces Miles Ahead
Ewan MacGregor (Moulin Rouge, Big Fish, Mortdecai) - Dave Brill
Keith Stanfield (Dope, Straight Outta Compton) -
Michael Stuhlbarg (Steve Jobs, Blue Jasmine) - Harper Hamilton
IF YOU MUST KNOW
This was a movie about Miles Davis, but seems to have avoided being a biopic. It was more like watching Don Cheadle brilliantly portray someone who has largely been a famous but mysterious musical legend. Miles Ahead is a snapshot of a glance of the music icon's life. The good news is that you want to learn more about Miles after watching this movie, but the bad news is you almost need to do it. You don't get much more than what we already know. He was as talented as he was brilliant and he was brilliantly flawed. He walked that fine line between genius and insanity and may have crossed back and forth a few times. He loved a woman (and then some more of them).
Cheadle does an incredible job of portraying the enigmatic jazz virtuoso/iconoclast, but as a writer and director, he tells us next to nothing. In fact, the movie was a little weird. There were multiple fights, a gun fight or two, and even a car chase with a gun fight - none of which were things that I heard about Miles when my Pops forced me to listen to Jazz 88's Rhythm Revue way back when I was travelling back and forth to the barbershop or during those Saturday early mornings or late evenings for Prep for Prep - I was forced to listen to the Rhythm Revue and eventually developed a love for "old-timey" music. The drugs, I knew about, but nobody ever mentioned him in a reckless car chase through the city. I feel like I would have remembered that.
Like many male driven movies, the highlight is often the female lead. Sometimes what is supposed to be window dressing can really save a movie (see my comments about Wonder Woman in the Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice). So, she may have appeared in one of my previous posts... then again, maybe not. In any event, she would have been my choice for the Nina Simone movie they did with my ex, Zoe Saldana.
As much as Cornealdi (Taylor) is talented and incredibly beautiful (I would totally karaoke Prince's "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" to her if she were in the vacinity - hell, I'd do it a cappella), she doesn't elevate this movie in the way Gadot/Wonder Woman elevated Dawn of Justice. She is, obviously easy on the eyes and remarkably talented - every bit Cheadles acting match, but she didn't have a hell of a lot to work with here.
Nevertheless, this is still a fairly good directorial debut. The odd matching cuts that Cheadle has throughout the film give it a certain feel - I think he was going for something jazz-y - forced. I thought it was a pretty good film, but not a good biopic. There are many facets to Miles that clearly were not explored, but the overall movie came off as a bit of a short story that left you wondering why they picked this particular period in his life rather than do something that was more encompassing and generally more engrossing. It's Miles FREAKING Davis. An audience interested enough to see a movie that no one expects to have car chases could totally have sat through a 150-180 minutes of his life story.
This movie was just not aggressive enough in its breadth or depth for me to recommend going out to see it. It is worth watching, just not something you need to spend 12-15 bucks on.
Should be on Amazon or Netflix pretty soon, so feel free to save your dough. Or, if you're a real Miles aficionado... save your bread. You'll get nothing out of this flick. Movie lovers can enjoy the acting talents of Cornealdi and Cheadle (they should totally team up again... they have an interesting on-screen chemistry that should be explored further), but do not expect to feel enlightened or fulfilled on any level when the end credits roll.
IMTHATDUDE gives Miles Ahead: 3, by a hair
5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.