Miles Ahead | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Miles Ahead

Biography of Miles Davis avoids clichés, and offers a good performance from Don Cheadle


Don Cheadle’s engaging bio-pic of jazz great Miles Davis manages to rise above the usual tropes of musical bio-pic. The film is set in 1980, when Davis (Cheadle) is marking five years of isolation in his New York City home, depressed, mean and coked up. Davis’ encounter with a reporter (Ewan McGregor) spurs hot takes on his life’s work (“don’t call my music jazz … it’s social music”), and there are snapshots — a fertile recording session, a domestic scuffle, a moment of personal crisis — that fill in Davis’ extensive history without leaning too heavily on the standard format of tortured-artist bio-pic. There is also a wacky caper involving a pilfered master tape, guns and a car chase. Like Davis cautions: “If you’re gonna tell a story, come with some attitude. Don’t be all corny and shit.”

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