Miles Ahead (2016)

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Don Cheadle directs himself, Ewan McGregor and Michael Stuhlbarg in this funky, experimental sideway glance at the jazz icon’s life.

Put it this way, if you are expecting this to be a straight, solid, estate approved biography like Ray, Walk the Line or Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story then you are in for a shock. Cheadle does pay homage to landmark moments in Miles Davis’ rise and fall via discombobulated flashbacks – these are many and give you a good broad strokes and keynotes representation of the jazz pioneer’s chaotic reality. But it’s the framing device that takes up the bulk of the running time and causes as many distracting problems as generates much of the heat. A fictional wild weekend caper movie that owes far more to Midnight Run or Shane Black as it does one of those £3 paperback biographies you can buy in Fopp. As a gun wielding, fist throwing Cheadle and McGregor (a made up Rolling Stones journalist tagging along for a scoop) chase down some missing session tapes that might just inspire the coked up and reclusive Davis out of retirement, you can’t help but feel this aspect either should have been dialled back or embraced fully ( a la Bubba Ho-Tep) for at a more consistent movie. I respect the risk taken but you do feel hoodwinked when you check Wikipedia and discover just how much of the narrative is utter bobbins. Cheadle the star though shines, making the unpredictable, often admirably dislikable, Davis a captivating and credible protagonist.

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