A bizarre story and the always solid work of Don Cheadle make this a film you won’t want to miss. Oh yeah, and then there is the music of Miles Davis to enjoy. Don’t expect a film that will let you into the life of Miles Davis as it is not your typical biopic. Not at all. It is actually not really a biopic at all as it is not based on a real life event(s). It is totally made up.
Though the story is rather over the top, Don Cheadle as Miles Davis isn’t. He totally inhabits the character. The wig. The clothes. The voice. He plays the title character. Directs the picture. Plus he co-wrote and co-produced the film. Don Cheadle obviously loves Miles Davis. Most importantly, and what really rescues the film, is the fact that he is spot on Miles Davis. It was no surprise to find out in the special features that Cheadle had the full support of Miles Davis’ family.
Rolling Stone writer Dave Braden (played by Ewan McGregor) is doing everything he can to get an interview with the legendary jazz trumpet player Miles Davis. For five years now during the late 70s, Davis has disappeared from the public eye. The recluse has recorded some music, which he guards carefully despite his label wanting to release it, and spends most of his time doing drugs in his house.
Braden is not going to take a bunch of “Go aways” or a punch to the face as a no. He persists. Finally Davis is worn down and lured by the promise of Braden driving him to his record label office to collect some money and then to a drug dealer to get some reputedly great cocaine. Of course, nothing goes as planned.
Over the next couple of days, Braden and Davis spend their time trying to get back the musical icon’s stolen tape of his latest recordings.
Definitely more of an art house film. Won’t attract a huge audience, but certainly is worth a viewing. Even if you are not a huge Miles Davis fan. It is a film that gives you an insight into the mind and chutzpah of the man. Even though it is fictional, there are pieces that really show you who he was. Flashbacks are used to show the man before the drugs took over.
Make sure you pay attention to the last scene as it features a Miles Davis performance with a band made up of Herbie Hancock, Gary Clark Jr. and Esperanza Spalding. Worth the price of admission alone.
-Commentary with Don Cheadle and Steven Baigelman
-The Truth: Becoming Miles Davis
-Sundance Film Festival Q&A
-Previews of The Lady in the Van, Son of Saul, I Saw the Light, The Bronze, Dark Horse, The Meddler