Thursday, October 15, 2015
Miles Ahead played in this year's New York Film Festival.
Like the unruly spawn of The End of the Tour and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Miles Ahead is a fictionalized biography of a real artist that pairs its subject with a journalist turned sidekick of sorts. Unlike The End of the Tour's logorrheic David Foster Wallace, Miles Ahead's Miles Davis (Don Cheadle) is tight-lipped and enigmatic, too cool to ever spill his guts—except maybe literally, in one of the comically inept gunfights he keeps getting into. Instead of talking to Rolling Stone freelancer Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor), he makes him his wingman on a series of quixotic quests, pursuing a tape of the only music he's recorded during a long fallow period; the $20,000 he says his thuggish producer, Harper (Michael Stuhlbarg), owes him; and the mounds of cocaine that fuel his erratic, often violent, possibly paranoid behavior.
Cheadle, who directed and co-wrote the film, says he didn't want to make a standard biopic, and he succeeds in sidestepping the facile pop psychologizing and lachrymose sentimentality of films like Ray and Walk the Line, not to mention their compulsion for locating the source of an artist's unhappiness and talent in some childhood trauma. But he fails to provide any real insight into Davis's thoughts or feelings. Read the rest in Slant Magazine