biopic

The Miles Davis Biopic: A Day In The Life Of Miles Davis

Don Cheadle recently discussed the status of the Miles Davis Biopic in an interview with Collider.com. For me, the highlight of his comments was describing the film as taking place “over a day and a half of his life — a very intense day and a half of his life…”

We’ve known for awhile now the film was going to eschew the usual Hollywood blueprint for biopics (see: Ray), but it’s only now we finally have a firm grasp on the narrative Cheadle has chosen.

Cheadle rams home this point declaring the project is “not a biopic,” so now is a good time for me to stop worrying about the possibility of a cradle-to-grave biopic — because that is not happening. I guess I can also stop calling it the Miles Davis Biopic.

Did I think the first Miles Davis film project to eventually make it into movie theaters would center around an intense, 36-hour moment in his life? No, but my excitement about the endeavor remains steadfast.

But if there’s one thing I’d love to know from Cheadle is what day (and a half), exactly, are we talking about? Is this a real day in the life of Miles Davis, or a day developed purely for film?

And if it is an actual day, just when in the Miles Davis timeline are we talking about?

Is this young Miles? Old Miles? Jazz-fusion Miles? Kicking the drug habit Miles? Recording Kind of Blue Miles?

What’s curious about Cheadle’s comments is that he describes the project as “not deep” and “not serious fare,” yet the day and a half of Davis’ life Cheadle wants to focus on is described as “very intense.”

I might be making it too complicated for my own good. Without actually reading the script I’m just as out of the loop as anyone not associated with the project. Still, I would really… really like to know what day (and a half) they have in mind.

Another aspect of the day and a half framework is how the music of Miles Davis fits in. For awhile now the music rights have reportedly been secured for the film, arguably the most vital ingredient in making any film about Miles Davis.

I think we all know the music will be there, the question is will we see Don Cheadle as Miles Davis playing the music? I cannot imagine this film not featuring performance scenes, be it just Miles in the studio, or on stage in some smoky club.

Screenwriter Steven Baigelman and Cheadle could have easily inserted flashbacks into the script to incorporate more scenes of Miles Davis performing, but we shall see.

Everyone wants something different from a film about Miles Davis, but watching Cheadle portraying the jazz legend while playing the trumpet is one of them.

Biopic, not-a-biopic, or whatever Cheadle and Co. have in mind for the movie is a project I am eagerly awaiting. But because this film focuses solely on one day in the life of the jazz icon, this means the door remains wide open for a director, actor, or studio to jump in and produce yet another movie about Miles Davis – this time along the lines of a traditional biopic.

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One thought on “The Miles Davis Biopic: A Day In The Life Of Miles Davis

  1. Another thing to think about is Don’s current appearance. He is going to be 48 this year and at that age, if he plays his age and not utilize some make-up to alter him, he would be at the age when Miles was going thru Hell with coke addiction and bad music. Not much of a story there unless you pursue the idea of a man going thru yet another of his many changes. In my opinion Miles lost most if not all of his virtuosity and depth of feeling after those years. The music was not selling well and he was in a tumultuous relationship with Cicely Tyson. This is a movie we’ve seen all too many times so I wish I knew where this is going. As a screenwriter myself I’d love to take a shot at a treatment. Let us not ignore the man’s gift at the expense of recreatring his tribulations and difficulty with other people. He seems like a failing ‘movie star’ actor to me more than anything else. His music had taken a back seat to his ‘performance’ arts as a prickly and unapproachable personality afflicted with fame and hubris years before. Now that could teach us something. That could be insighful. That could also be very musical. A famous man desperately searching for his heart amidst an excess of drug-addled thought and social pressure to perform. All changes eventually lead to death. A hero’s death is always during a search.

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