The Miles Davis Movie: Better as indie-flick or Hollywood blockbuster?

I haven’t spoken to Don Cheadle. I haven’t read the script. I have no clue what the distribution plans are at the moment. I have no idea what the budget is/will be.

We do know a movie about Miles Davis is happening (right?), and all signs are a ‘go’ from Cheadle and his team.

In these frustratingly early stages, what’s hard to measure is whether or not this film is ticketed to be like “Ray,” or more like “Little Miss Sunshine” – one an example of a movie cut from an excellent Hollywood fabric, and the other a solid example of independent film-making (even though the parameters of what constitutes an independent film these days has changed dramatically from years past.)

It’s about money, really. Big money gets you “The Dark Knight” and small funds get you “Juno” – both equally entertaining and popular in their own way.

Lord knows big budget doesn’t guarantee success or any semblance of being entertaining, just as shoe-string movie-making doesn’t equal commercial or critical success.

So for the Miles Davis movie we don’t really know what it’s going to be – though I think we can agree it’s not going to have the budget of a “Transformers.”

But if you could make the film about Miles Davis what would you prefer: Hollywood extravagance or indie-cool.

I’ll pathetically sit on the fence and say I’d opt for a dash of both.

It’s not a film about space invaders and we don’t need to recreate World War I, so no need for the mega budget, but I wouldn’t mind throwing some extra cash towards A-plus production design and whatever else goes into the overall look and feel of the final product.

Don Cheadle is an Oscar-nominated actor, so with him comes much deserved attention and interest in the film. He’s not Will Smith in terms of box office glory and this isn’t “Hancock,” but at least in regards to the film’s star (and director) we’re in good company where industry respect and pop culture status is concerned.

But even with Cheadle, would a movie about Miles Davis be better served without any glitz? Is it better to have a less-polished approach to the storytelling?

Because I use “Ray” as my de facto example for just about everything regarding the Miles Davis movie I’ll admit that I wouldn’t mind if the Miles Davis flick mirrored some of the style of the Ray Charles biopic.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t bet against a stripped-down film about Miles Davis. Maybe a gritty take on the jazz legend lends itself better to the overall themes of his life, as opposed to a film that’s too sparkling, unable to bring the darker elements of the story.

Regardless of budget and marketing, Hollywood flash or indie cool, the movie has to be… good. Yep, ‘good’ is totally subjective when it comes to entertainment, but any film, I think, must resonate with the audience – on some level.

It needn’t be “Citizen Kane,” but it needs to be better than “From Justin to Kelly.”

A big factor in all this is Don Cheadle – director. Because the Miles Davis flick will be his directorial debut we don’t have any previous work to analyze. I’ve discussed the idea of Cheadle as the right choice to direct the movie, but it’ll be interesting to see what style he employs, which might/might not be directly associated to the budget.

I’m going to see the Miles Davis movie no matter what. My expectations are high, both for its critical and commercial success. I don’t think it’s an easy undertaking to bring the trumpeter to life, but I have faith – I have faith the filmmakers will capture the magic and create an entertaining and engaging movie about Miles Davis that appeals to moviegoers across the board.

How they go about achieving that final goal remains to be seen – only time will tell….


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