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Wick's Review

Created Apr 30, 2016 03:51PM PST • Edited Sep 23, 2017 12:35PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Very Good 3.5

    A moviestar who directs himself playing an iconic figure in a dramatic biopic has a fool for a leading-man. Don Cheadle provides proof of this as Miles Davis in Miles Ahead, following in the footsteps of Kevin Spacey, who stubbed his toe directing himself as Bobby Darin in the similarly flawed Beyond The Sea.

    Cheadle is outstanding as Davis, one of the greatest musicians of modern times, a superstar who personified rockstar-like privilege and debauchery in a seminally cool package. It’s an exceptionally seductive role.

    Pity then that Cheadle’s direction and screenplay don’t measure up. Co-writer Steven Baigelman didn’t help, though his contributions to the James Brown biopic Get On Up indicate he’s capable of superior work.

    Miles Davis’s seminal role in modern culture make this compelling, if flawed, biopic a must-see for jazz fans, those amused by rockstar excess, interested in the African-American experience, Don Cheadle fans and anyone curious about Miles the man. It may not be the birth of the cool, but is surely a bitches brew.

  3. Great 4.0

    Don Cheadle inhabits Miles Davis in a complete and compelling manner, right down to the famous voice: sotto voce and raspy. That said, the raspy voice gets old after a while. Cheadle ably embodies Davis’s monumental contradictions and flaws: the stunning artistry, apparent bipolar disease and heavy cocaine use.

    • Emayatzy Corinealdi transfixes as Frances Taylor, the gorgeous dancer who gave up her career to become Mrs. Miles. Corinealdi is an actress of note.
    • Ewan McGregor moves much of the action along as a sightly underhanded Rolling Stone reporter who becomes running buddies with his subject.
    • Michael Stuhlbarg impresses less than usual as a scummy record producer.
    • Keith Stansfield makes a solid impression as a young trumpet player with a very bad habit.
    • Jeffrey Grover as Gil Evans
    • Joshua Jessen as Bill Evans
    • Theron Brown as Herbie Hancock
    • JT Thigpen as Paul Chambers
    • Jon “Swing” McHale as himself
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Very Good 3.5
  8. Very Good 3.5

    Don Cheadle directed Miles Ahead from a screenplay he wrote with Steven Baigelman. So he gets auteur points, but should avoid such indulgences in the future. Clint Eastwood, he’s not.

  9. Direction Good 3.0
  10. Play OK 2.5
  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Great 4.0
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.6

    Lots of coke snorting, women abusing and other seriously bad behaviors get essayed in Miles Ahead.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.8
  16. Violence Fierce 2.5
  17. Rudeness Profane 3.4
  18. Glib 1.4

    Miles Ahead is unsparing in showing the character flaws of Miles Davis. Most of this stems from his serious drug addictions, with cocaine the focus of much of the movie. But the movie also paints him as a serious racist, someone who compulsively judges everyone first and foremost on their race and gender.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.3

    Surreal CircoReality isn’t a good choice for a biopic.

  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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