So we finally get a sneak preview of the new Miles Davis movie ‘Miles Ahead’, which wrapped in August 2014 and gets a worldwide release in January. It has also just closed the New York Film Festival and the reviews are in.
First, the positives – Don Cheadle, who also directed, co-wrote and co-produced, has apparently done some serious homework. He looks and sounds the way late-’70s Miles conceivably would have done, and seems to have the speech rhythms and timbre down pat. Herbie Hancock and Robert Glasper contributed to the soundtrack and the movie has the blessing of Miles’ son Erin and nephew Vince Wilburn.
What else can we glean? Ewan McGregor is…Ewan McGregor. The central device of a British (why British?) journalist’s quest to write the ultimate feature on Miles might seem a blatant plot contrivance, but we’ll have to see if there’s any mileage in the idea. Certainly there’s nothing comparable in Miles’s real life unless I’m very much mistaken. But, according to the latest reviews and also Cheadle’s own comments about his aims and motives for making the film, realism really isn’t the point.
Who knows, maybe ‘Miles Ahead”s January release will see another ‘Whiplash’-style sleeper hit and we’ll have two successful ‘jazz’ movies inside a year. And Cheadle grabbing next year’s Best Actor Oscar seems a pretty good bet.