Flip through a few pages of his entertaining autobiography (here’s page 65!) and it’s clear Miles Davis had a talent for the profane.
But it was always more than just one “motherf**ker” after another. To categorize Miles as simply a master of dirty words is missing the bigger picture entirely. Amid the obscene language is much wisdom and understanding, a gift for storytelling and a ‘cool,’ linguistic style. Some people just have a way of putting things. Certainly after awhile the expletives can feel like a brick to the head, but there was often ‘truth’ wrapped up with the colorful language.
Nevertheless, Miles Davis could rock the bad words – no way around it. And that was just who he was/is. So for the biopic I wonder how much profanity is already in the script and just how much they will allow in the film. I figure anything under 20 “motherf**kers” and it’s just not cricket.
And here is where the MPAA comes into play, while Don Cheadle and team have to decide whether or not the Miles Davis biopic is going to built for Rated R or PG-13.
Personally I think it can succeed either way; let’s figure not too much violence and sex, but a heavy dose of strong language, alcohol/drug content and the always helpful ‘adult themes.’
I checked IMDB, and for a traditional music biopic like Ray, the MPAA gave it a PG-13 rating for ‘depiction of drug addiction, sexuality and some thematic elements.’ On the flip side, a non-traditional music biopic such as I’m Not There was Rated R for ‘language, some sexuality and nudity.’
You could make the case that an R rating might hurt the film at the box office, but then again The Godfather is Rated R, so that’s about as good a counter-argument as it gets. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter as long as the film is great.
It’s interesting, not too mention frustrating, how the MPAA ratings systems works. There’s a wealth of excellent anti-ratings system material to get a feel for some of the hypocrisy and silliness surrounding the process of putting a rating on a film. Kirby Dick’s This Film Is Not Yet Rated is a fantastic documentary which explores the American movie ratings board.
Now if I could only get my hands on that script I’d have a much better idea of where this Miles Davis biopic ship is headed….