‘Miles Ahead’

Review by The People’s Minister of Information JR

Let me be the first to say that “Miles Ahead,” the film about the legendary trumpet player Miles Davis, is completely and utterly terrible and devoid of historical information. When it is over, the film doesn’t make me want to learn more about Miles Davis.

Miles Davis
Miles Davis

I’ve been a huge fan of Miles Davis’ music and also the acting of the man who plays Miles, Don Cheadle. I learned to play every note on Miles’ classic album “Kind of Blue” on trumpet when I was in the jazz band in my high school years.

Cheadle lost major points with me, because he was the writer, director and lead actor in this disgusting move to defile the legacy of one of the greatest internationally known trumpet players in history. We should hashtag #MilesAheadsowhite to brand it, right alongside the Oscars.

The film is based around a make believe white reporter from Rolling Stone Magazine, who stalks Miles to get an interview, while Miles is on a five-year hiatus from performing and recording. He helps Miles to get some cocaine, and they soon become fast friends.

What is wrong with this part of the story? For one, considering Miles Davis’ career lasted from 1945-1991, close to 50 years, you should not have to make anything up. There are enough real stories in his iconic and troubled life that you shouldn’t have to bring in fiction.

The film is based around a make believe white reporter from Rolling Stone Magazine, who stalks Miles to get an interview, while Miles is on a five-year hiatus from performing and recording.

For two, when I came to the theater to see a movie about Miles Davis, I came to see about the music, not somebody’s warped fantasy of white boys and girl (cocaine). “Miles Ahead” is more like a weaker version of “The Fast and the Furious,” mixed with a Blaxploitation movie, set around Jazz artists.

I wanted to see glimpses of his personal and working relationships with some of the great musicians of his day, people he hung and or performed with, like Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Archie Shepp, Max Roach, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gellespie. I also wanted to see Miles interact with his legendary actress wife, Cicely Tyson.

“Miles Ahead” is more like a weaker version of “The Fast and the Furious,” mixed with a Blaxploitation movie, set around Jazz artists.

For three, in all of the biographies I’ve read about Miles Davis, they talked about his disposition against white people, even his white fans; he regularly played his horn in front of them with his back turned onstage. So why was this fictional white character written into the script as Miles’ best friend, who kept him company in the basement doing cocaine while there was a party in Mile’s house upstairs?

To the movie’s credit, it does portray Miles’ love for his first wife, Broadway dancer Frances Davis, a member of Katherine Dunham’s dance troupe. The love scene between the two of them is a great show of cinematography. The camera angles in this scene and the setting were eye-catching, the music playing was beautiful, and Cheadle caressing the actress playing Frances Davis syncopated with the music really conveyed emotion. This quick interaction was the highlight of the film for me, along with the scene during the closing credits which shows Robert Glasper, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Gary Clark Jr. and a few others performing with Cheadle in his Miles costume.

To the movie’s credit, it does portray Miles’ love for his first wife, Broadway dancer Frances Davis, a member of Katherine Dunham’s dance troupe.

We will see how Don Cheadle is looked at in Hollywood after this film. Just like when Spike Lee did his bogus Huey P. Newton film, and Zoe Saldana as the lead actress in the upcoming Nina Simone film, where she wears Blackface and a prosthetic nose, Hollywood forces the best of Black talent into social-legacy cannibalism on artists and thinkers who paved the way for these ungrateful sunkissed butlers of white supremacy.

I can’t wait until somebody writes a true film about the white dope fiend, over-sexed mental patient, Marilyn Monroe or her boyfriend, the son of a prominent bootlegger who died with a myriad of drugs in his body, John F. Kennedy, or the drug addictions of internationally known white musicians like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley.

It probably will not happen while this geographic place is still known as the United States of Amerikkka. Black writers, directors, producers and actors need to help protect the legacies of our ancestors and not aid and assist or lead the charge on destroying their memories for 30 pieces of silver, some fame and a job. That is called prostitution. And Don Cheadle is the newest hooker on the blade.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.