Of all the news to come out of Don Cheadle’s interview with the Wall Street Journal last week about his Miles Davis Film, his comment about the movie being ‘a gangster pic’ has attracted the most attention.
Gangster like ‘Goodfellas’ gangster? No, most likely not – let’s hope.
More like the modern slang ‘gangsta’, which I assume Cheadle means in reference to the tone, the style and the many changes happening in popular music around 1979, which is where the Miles Davis Movie is set.
Between the ‘gangster pic’ comment and also referring to the forthcoming Miles Davis Movie as ‘cubist’ in style, the film-loving and Miles Davis-loving segments across the internet were mightily confused and intrigued — but still happy to hear an update from the busy Cheadle.
I’m still excited about a film about Miles Davis being produced – with the immensely talented Cheadle in the lead role – but whatever narrative Cheadle has conjured up to make this thing as opposite as humanly possible from a traditional biopic has me slightly unsure how it all ends.
That can be the case with any story someone wants to put on film; sometimes it works, sometimes it’s a disaster.
Is it the safer play to just bang out a traditional biopic like Ray? Sure, but only if it’s going to be as good as Ray. So for having the courage to mix things up creatively, I applaud Cheadle. It might not be how I’d draw it up, but I’ll for sure be there when the lights go down.
I still think a comprehensive documentary (calling Ken Burns) could do the trick; we’re talking six hours! Even a feature doc, like Tom DiCillo’s recent Doors film, When You’re Strange, might work fine.
But the chance to watch a talented actor like Cheadle jump into a role as weighty as this one is hard to pass up. Still, they might make a total mess of it with a kooky narrative, which would be a bummer, or the thing might shine brightly and be a big hit across the board.
It’s hard to know what Miles would have wanted in a film about his life, even though Cheadle has said, “It’s a movie that Miles Davis would have wanted to star in.”
I can’t imagine Miles Davis telling someone to make sure the thing is ‘cubist’ if and when they decide to make a movie about his life. But if the movie has attitude and toughness and cool movie-type-stuff going on, then sure, why wouldn’t Miles Davis not be happy with a project like that.
This thing has been on a slow burn forever, but at least we have movement, we have information to discuss. At this point, the stories about the failed attempts to get a movie made about Miles, the many people who dream of getting a movie made about Miles and Don Cheadle’s chance to bring it all home might make a good documentary all it’s own.