Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Miles Ahead film review

Anyone looking for a traditional biopic of jazz legend Miles Davis should avoid Miles Ahead like the plague. When star and director Don Cheadle first discussed the film with the Davis family, they pitched him various concepts and he thought they were all boring. He told them he wanted to make Davis a gangster. Once they agreed to that, he agreed to star and then to direct. For the most part, the film concentrates on a period in the late 70s when Davis had retired from everything. He had recorded an album that was to be his comeback. So Rolling Stone reporter Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor) knocks on his door to write about it. From here it turns into an action adventure film that is mostly nonsense but is fun to watch. In fact, the Brill character is fiction. Cheadle says that to get the film financed, he needed to have a white co-star. So we have this plot where Davis' master tapes have been stolen and he and Brill have to get them back. Music fans will wonder what the hell is going on. We see in flashback sequences that he regrets the way he treated his first wife Frances (Emayatzy Corinealdi of Middle of Nowhere). That's her on the album cover of Someday My Prince Will Come. And we also see him recording with Gil Evans (Jeffrey Grover) and rehearsing with Herbie Hancock. But then we return to this action adventure film that seems to be included mainly to infuriate Miles Davis fans. But as Ewan McGregor said, Davis might have wanted to star in that kind of film. As a nod to music fans, the closing segment has a concert featuring Don Cheadle on trumpet. Wayne Shorter on sax, Herbie Hancock and Robert Glasper on piano, Gary Clark Jr. on guitar, Esperanza Spalding on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums. If that's what you want to watch, there are concert DVDs available. This is not a standard biopic. It's a caper pic starring Miles Davis. And I enjoyed it for what it was because I knew what the film wasn't before I saw it. Many thinks to the fine folks at Hollywood Suite for the passes. Check out the trailer.

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