Sunday, April 03, 2016

Miles Ahead

      Actor Don Cheadle stars and also co-writes as well as directs this unique interpretation of the life of music's  legendary, Miles Davis. As an actor, Mr. Cheadle is terrific as Davis but as a director and writer, he unfortunately misses the note.

       The film starts with Mr. Davis's life in the 70's but also includes earlier flashbacks to the 60's. By jumping around so much, it never gives a full portrait of the artist and completely avoids his early career. This is far from a standard "bio-pic". The writing is erratic with Mr. Davis acting more like a gangster than a musician. His coke fueled paranoia leads to car chases and shoot outs which may or may not have really happened. It seems Mr. Cheadle and his co-writers have made a deliberate attempt to create a cinematic version of improvisational jazz using bits and pieces of Mr. Davis's life.

        Ewan McGregor co-stars as a writer who gets close to Davis when he tells him he is writing an article for Rolling Stone. At first dismissed, Mr. McGregor wins favor after he manages to score cocaine for Davis. They spend the rest of the film together like some bad buddy comedy. The film also co-stars Emayatzy Corinealdi as Frances Taylor, Mr. Davis's first wife and Michael Stuhlbarg as a seedy record producer.

         Mr. Cheadle does give a wonderful performance, completely inhabiting the role. Unfortunately as written, the role never really defines the man or the artist. What can be really appreciated though is the soundtrack. It's a terrific compilation of music made famous by Mr. Davis and other Jazz greats.

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