Monday, October 19, 2015

Miles on Monday: Don Cheadle defends
Miles Ahead, film gets release date, and more

This week in Miles Davis news, there's plenty of additional scoop related to last week's premiere screening of Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle's new film about Davis, but first, a few items not about the movie:

* Last week also marked the 43rd anniversary of the release of Davis' album On The Corner, and S. Victor Aaron of the website Something Else! took the opportunity for a retrospective look at the still-controversial recording.

* Speaking of retrospective looks, the website Jazz Profiles last week republished an interview Davis did with Michael Zwerin, which appeared originally on CultureKiosque in the late 1990s as part of Zwerin's 41-part (!) series of articles about the trumpeter.

* Davis' music also is being used onscreen for a vehicle very different than Miles Ahead, as a new TV commercial for Lincoln automobiles starring actor Matthew McConaughey incorporates "Au Bar du Petit Bac" from the trumpeter's score for the 1958 Louis Malle film Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud ("Elevator to the Gallows").

And now for the movie news: 

* After the New York Film Festival's premiere screening of Miles Ahead, distributor Sony Classics announced that, contrary to previous speculation, the film would not get a one-week theatrical run in 2015 to qualify for this year's Academy Awards. Instead, the opening now is scheduled for April 2016.

*'s Solomon J. LeFlore recapped the story behind the film's making, and his AAJ colleague R. J. DeLuke interviewed Davis' nephew Vincent Wilburn, who was crucial to getting Cheadle to star and direct.

* Meanwhile, more reviews of Miles Ahead continue to be published. Some excerpts and links:

"Don Cheadle glows as Miles Davis and makes a promising and energetic directorial debut, but the film is too restless and over the top to resonate." - Gregory Wakeman, CinemaBlend

"Contextualised by transporting musical interludes, the performances should ensure the movie succeeds in urban markets. The dissonance between its two story strands may nevertheless alienate some viewers." - Graham Fuller, Screen Daily

"Cheadle’s approach of ignoring chronology, and having the music evoke the images, makes Davis’s work accessible to all audiences. The screenplay is another matter. One wishes the filmmaker-biographers would have dropped the buddy plot and left us alone with Davis and his memories." - Maria Garcia,

"In its attempt to rewrite the story of Davis, “Miles Ahead” ends up diminishing his personality. It presents Davis as a man of one-note when, as anybody who has listened to his music can attest, he contained multitudes." - Craig Hubert, BlouinArtInfo

"Biographical dramas, unlike jazz, need to be grounded in reality. And Cheadle’s performance, while it makes Miles Ahead worth seeing, should have been grounded in a more focused and tough-minded movie." - Owen Glieberman, BBC

* In the wake of what seem to be generally mixed reviews, Cheadle (pictured, in a flashback sequence from the film) has continued to defend the creative decisions made during his directorial debut in interviews with publications including the Hollywood Reporter, Billboard,, and the Los Angeles Times.

* However, Cheadle was candid about the limitations imposed by the film's tight budget and schedule when he appeared for an extended interview on a recent episode of Kevin Pollak's Chat Show. The entire interview is embedded in the video window below, but the main discussion of Miles Ahead starts about 18 and a half minutes in. Cheadle and Pollak continue talking about the film for roughly the next 11 minutes, and refer it to several more times during the course of the interview.

No comments: