Miles Ahead movie full length review - Not a film about Miles but a film straight from the heart of Miles -- Bravo!
MILES AHEAD --. World Premiere at Berlin 2016. Non competition special reviewed By Alex Deleon
An Incandescent reincarnation of legendary American Jazz Musician Miles Davis by Don Cheadle, directing, producing, playing trumpet, and playing Miles himself in bushy Afro hairdo in a multi-faceted one man tour de force. This very special biopic took the Paying non-professional German audience in the cavernous Friedrichstadt Palast by storm, arousing enthusiastic ten minute ovations (two of them! -- once at end of the film itself and again after the end credits finish rolling).
On stage after the screening Mr. Cheadle, a little guy (but a giant on screen, like Japanese samurai star Toshiro Mifune) was evidently taken aback by such an unexpectedly thunderous reception from a foreign audience which he acknowledged with extreme modesty. This is not exactly a full biopic in the ordinary sense of the word as it concentrates on a mere couple of days in the life of the black American jazz legend, but these are explosive enough to convey a full picture of the angry arrogant wound-up artist who lived behind the trumpet. Don Cheadle has come a light year in the movie business since his screen debut as a G.I. in the Viet Nam war film, Hamburger Hill, 1987, or Boogie Nights as a porn star opposite Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore in 1997.
In the press conference which preceded the screening Cheadle said that this film which he worked on for six years, learning to play the trumpet in the process, is practically a lifelong dream come true. He grew up on the music of Davis and ever since entering the business has had such a project in mind. However, in the event, he states that he did not want to make a film "about Miles Davis" but rather a film in the skin of Miles Davis, as if the gangsterlike trumpet virtuoso had come back to life to present himself in his own words. Speaking in the role with a typical negro mushy mouthed style identical to the way Miles actually spoke, not cleaned up for a middle class audience and foreign to the perfect "white" elocution that is natural to the black actor in every day life, this is a film that pulls no punches and is loaded to the gills with the F-word and the MF-word, translated into German in the subtitles as the much weaker "Wikser" (habitual masturbator) -- clearly German has no real equivalent for the standard American ebonic Mutha-f****r. No matter. Powerful unexpurgated trashy dialogue all the way and a fiery angry arrogant gun toting performance by Cheadle which accomplishes the artistic task he has set out for himself in this Magnum Opus of his Hollywood career.
The story Cheadle chooses to tell focuses on the period in Miles's life when, already a living legend but having been out of action for five years addicted to cocaine as well as booze, he is about to stage a comeback to perform once again live on stage. An extreme sleaseball of a Rolling Stone reporter (Ewan McGregor) comes knocking at his door demanding an interview, and will not take No for an answer even if this puts his own life at stake. Obviously at this point in his fame and notoriety any live interview with Miles Davis would make the career of any obtrusive little known jerk of a journalist. The Rolling Stoner works his way into Miles' marginally "good graces" by supplying him with oodles of Coke and becomes his companion in a wild run around town to recover a private tape of Davis's latest music from a bunch of sleazy music producers who have commandeered it. The background music is largely from the best selling Davis album "Sketches of Spain" and we see Cheadle actually blowing trumpet in flashbacks. Along The way we learn that Miles did not like the term Jazz for his music -- "I make "Social Music" he says pointedly in the picture -- and we also see that he can play the piano and is very familiar with modern classic composers such as Stravinsky and Eric Satie. No musical slouch, Mr. Miles Davis! But when confronting the A-holes who have stolen his music he waves a menacing gun at them and we have little doubt that he will use it if necessary. In this compact segment from a desperately lived life Cheadle even finds time for a little romance in the person of a beautiful black actress with the tongue twister name, Emayatzy Corninealdi, who accompanied Don to Berlin.
Over All the film is very violent with a few tender moments between Cheadle and Corinealdi, and a jittery hand held camera may throw some viewers off in spots but reflect the hectic pace of the chase. Pic ends up with Cheadle/Davis back on stage blowing his axe in patented inimitable Milesian style. Miles Davis died in 1991 at age 65 universally recognized as one of the most influential and innovative American musicians of the XXth century, jazz or-nojazz. Unquestionable Oscars in 2017 when the pic will become eligible for consideration.