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Miles Ahead: A Powerhouse Film, But is it the Truth?

Victor L. Schermer By

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To be fair, Don Cheadle had to make difficult choices in setting up this film. He chose action over introspection, dramatic power over historical unfolding of truth, and character portrayal over life story. These are the legitimate choices of an actor in his prime directing his first film. If he had thought more about what an audience would take home as an image and recollection of the search for truth that makes jazz such an important cultural development, he might have made a very different film. In that respect, it's interesting to consider that while Miles Davis' life could make for a great action film, an equally fine film, and one devoutly to be wished, about John Coltrane would have to be centered around his music. There was nothing especially exciting about the way that Trane lived, other than that he was one of the greatest musicians the world has ever known. Davis' huge legacy as a twentieth century iconic figure who innovated new music, changed perceptions of African American creative artists, and shaped existential understanding of the human condition is only superficially acknowledged in this film, mainly by Cheadle's stunning character portrayal.



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