Nina

From the beginning, “Nina” has been an uphill climb.

On Wednesday (the day theaters announce what will be playing on Friday) there were no theaters slated to play Nina on Movieclock.  I thought maybe the April 22nd release date would be pushed back again.  Then around 6 p.m. one theater in New York and one in New Jersey had picked it up.  By Friday, the New Jersey theater was out and another New York theater was added.  I thought this film had been set up to fail.

I planted myself into my seat at the theater, along with the other 10 or so people who were in attendance, and opened my mind to whatever I was about to witness.  Expecting nothing, I was rewarded with a strong attempt to emulate and embody Eunice Kathleen Waymon a/k/a Nina Simone, by Zoe Saldana.  I have to say, the movie wasn’t bad; but in many ways, neither was it good.

Zoe did a fine job.  She did her best to portray Nina Simone in “Nina,” a film written and directed by Cynthia Mort.  Anyone can easily see the amount of work Zoe put into this role.  Through terribly distracting make up and weak direction, Saldana was able to effectively, albeit unevenly, portray a character many believed she could not pull off.

As we have learned throughout our now extensive experience with biopics, because the film was made without the approval (and in this case despite the loud protest) of those who embody the subject’s estate, Simone’s actual recordings could not be used.  Zoe sang all of the songs in the film, and she sounded good.  Did she sound like Nina?  Of course not.  Her voice lacked the low, gravelly, soulful sound of Simone’s, but she was able to give a strong rendition of each song performed.  Zoe’s singing is actually one of the brighter, fresher notes of this film.  I mean, who knew Zoe sang?  This role allowed her to show a side of her talent she’s never shown before, and it was a bold debut.

Quite unfortunately, the makeup was problematic, and did take away from the movie; providing 90 minutes of torture and acting as a distraction in nearly every scene.  The makeup/prosthetics became a character in the movie in and of itself.  More uneven than Zoe’s acting, the cosmetics and foundation were inconsistent from scene to scene.  In one scene “Nina” is wearing a towel.  Darkening makeup was used for her face, arms, hands and upper torso, but her legs were left bare!  In some scenes the prosthetic nose used to capture the “look” of Simone was credible, and in others her nose looked like it was simply stuck on with bad blending of makeup surrounding it.  The makeup on the hands and face were uneven at times, most notably when the hands were shown during piano playing scenes.  From scene to scene, Nina’s makeup went from caramel to brown and back again, and many shades in between.  Given the surrounding controversy regarding Saldana’s “coloring,” or lack thereof, it was imperative to execute her makeup seamlessly.  The inconsistencies were glaring and inexcusable.

At times the film made me laugh out loud, but failed to deliver any genuine tension or tears.  Nina Simone was depicted as a washed up, mentally ill, alcoholic, bitter, angry, out of control, faded star who needed rescue, and for whom, at times, it was hard to feel compassion because she was so “tough.”  The “rescue” came in the form of David Oyelowo’s character, Clifton Henderson, who was Nina’s manager in her final years and is the man whose story is fictionalized in this film.

Oyelowo’s performance came off as flat, with a “calling it in” quality.  I believe this was intentional – to contrast Henderson’s cool demeanor against Nina’s hot temper and fiery tongue – but it did not work.  His character was whisked off to France by Simone on a whim after meeting and helping to treat her in a Los Angeles mental institution she had been ordered to following an arrest.  Henderson wound up leaving Nina and returning to the States out of frustration because he couldn’t “handle” her, was pursued and convinced to return, poured himself into getting her and her career back on track; and yet I felt nothing from him or really for him.  It felt as though he were playing a janitor charged with cleaning up a rest room.  On the one hand, watching Zoe as Nina was an emotional pull in all directions; chaotic and complicated, like Simone herself.  But the contrasting evenness of the Henderson character left me frustrated, never arriving at the feeling of triumph which should have accompanied the resuscitation of her career in her final years, because there was no character to feel it through.

The movie lacked a certain “freshness” which may be the result of a recent “Nina Simone saturation” and poor movie release timing.   Two 2015 documentaries, “What Happened Miss Simone” and “The Amazing Nina Simone,” contained so much archival footage which showed the best portrayal of Nina Simone, “acted out” and told first hand, it feels as though this fictionalized movie is some sort of afterthought.

Writing and directing a film allows for artistic control.  There is no one to heap accolades on for the success, or blame for the failures of “Nina,” except Cynthia Mort.  The ability to build one’s project and have it turn out exactly as it is envisioned is a rare opportunity which involves diligently doing one’s homework, sometimes putting one’s personal life and/or career on hold and pouring one’s soul into a creation.  Aside from Zoe’s acting (at times), I did not feel the soul or “passion” in this project.  Maybe the pressure of all the criticism and distraction got to Mort.  I don’t know.  But when Zoe dropped character or the makeup was not up to standard, the director should have been yelling “Cut!” and sending Zoe back in for retouches or having her redo the scene.  This did not happen.  And that is quite unfortunate for Saldana, because her performance was not flawless, but again, it was strong.

Mort did make the right call in sticking to her guns and casting Saldana, as Zoe did a good job.  I’m glad about that much.  Zoe, I rooted for you and you delivered to the extent that you could under the circumstances.  You pulled your weight, did your part and proved yourself.  With more consistent makeup and firmer direction, you might have had a nomination on your hands.  Maybe next time.

Welcome!

I feel as though I’ve been watching movies since I arrived on this planet and I cannot honestly name the first movie I ever saw.  I do, however, remember when I first learned that a movie could leave an indelible impression.  It was 1969 or 70 and I was about three and a half/four years old.  (Yes.  Let’s get this out of the way, so we’re all clear here.  I am turning 50 this year.  And let’s not speak of it again unless I need to bring it up for some reason.  Thankyouverymuch.)

My family was displaced because our apartment building had been burned down to the ground.  We were temporarily living in the Concourse Plaza Hotel in the Bronx.  Don’t be fooled by the use of the term “Plaza” in the name.  The place was a dump.  But we were together, everyone was safe, it was temporary, and that was all that mattered.  I have no idea how many months we stayed there.  For a three and a half/four year old child, the concept of time is of absolutely no consequence.  Ah, the good old days . . . But I digress . . .  My most prominent memories of “the Plaza” are (1) once, my brothers trapped a mouse outside one of the windows and watched it freeze to death; and (2) every day, to ease my anxiety about my unfamiliar surroundings, my dad would take me downstairs to this sort of concession stand in the “hotel” lobby and buy me a Milky Way candy bar when he got in.

The third thing I can recall from that period relates to a movie.  Prior to “the Plaza,” I had seen countless movies with my family: Martin & Lewis, Fred Astaire, Godzilla; some funny, some scary, some dramatic, etc.  Nothing was off limits for me.  (As the youngest of seven children, you get to watch whatever everyone else is watching pretty much unnoticed by blending in with the crowd, so I was exposed to every genre available at the time, to reflect the taste of each of my siblings.)

Never had I been so strongly and deeply affected by a film as I was by the 1958 version of The Blob starring Steve McQueen.  I will never forget, it came on one Saturday afternoon.  Something about that scene where the Blob oozes through the slats of that movie theatre attempting to “swallow up” all those teenagers and everyone is screaming and running for their lives paralyzed me with such a fear that day I would not recover from it for decades.  I had seen many “scary” movies before: Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, you name it.  But THIS was next level stuff for me!  Three. Year. Old. Mind. Blown!

You see, at “the Plaza” there were slats in the bottom fourth of the bathroom door.  So all I could envision was going to the bathroom and having that nasty jelly oozing through those slats while I screamed in terror until I was consumed.  So, what’s a three and a half/four year old to do?  Lay in the bed.  And.  Pee.  So terrified was I after watching that movie, in broad daylight, on a black and white television, on a Saturday afternoon, in the privacy of my own temporary hotel situation – a child who had been well potty-trained with never an accident on my record – made a conscious decision to wet the bed rather than face the possibility of being absorbed into that gross, jelly blob.  Upon finding out I had wet the bed my mother asked me what happened with such incredulity I went mute.  I did not have the capacity, as a three and a half/four year old to convey the level of pure terror I was feeling.  Of course, eventually, I had to get over it.  I was the youngest of seven children.  Nobody had time for my little traumas.  The band played on!  But believe me when I tell you I used the bathroom with the door wide open for a veeeery long time thereafter.

Even though The Blob gave me such a “bad” feeling, I have always sought out that level of emotion from the films I watch.  I know.  It’s an extremely high bar to set and I do realize I am not going to be as innocent as a three year old ever again.  But that emotion, amongst a host of other things, is what makes a great movie great for me.  A movie that makes me laugh and makes me cry is my ideal; makes me feel alive in the moment that I am experiencing it.

Every film is not a masterpiece, and every film does not have to be one.  Some films are for light escapes – jaunts if you will, providing temporary refuge from every day life.  Other films are just silly, time-passing tools.  And then there are films that tug at your heart and open your soul.  And let us not forget about the many, many films in between that serve one purpose or another.  There is a place for all of these, and each can be done well.  Or not.

The ability of an actor to convince us that the character being portrayed is real; to make him or herself become invisible – to disappear – while standing right in front of your eyes, is what I long for.  It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it is nothing short of transformative and magical.  It is true art – art not only from the actor(s), but from the producer(s), the director(s), the writer(s), the costume designer(s), the make-up artist(s), the sound crew, the camera crew, etc.  When all those moving parts come together just right a thing of beauty is born.  And once you’re no longer three or four, and understand the difference between reality and make-believe, and the serendipity it takes to achieve THAT . . . When you see it, you know it and you respect and appreciate it all the more.

After the age of three or four or five or ten or so, it becomes increasingly difficult to find magic of any kind, anywhere; much less in a movie.  But every once in a while, the stars align and a group of people gets it so very right.  That’s what makes movies so enjoyable to me.  The possibility that this crew just may have gotten it just ever so right.

I am not a descendant of anyone having anything to do with film or the arts, but I know a good movie from a great movie from a piece of crap from a “it could have been great, but…” movie.  I am not an aspiring actress, director, writer, cinematographer, make up artist, producer, or anything of the sort.  Instead of saying, “Those who can’t teach,” I say, “Those who don’t critique!”  I will offer an honest forthright opinion of a film and back up my opinions and interpretations to the best of my ability.  There is no right or wrong when giving one’s opinion.  It just is what it is.  And that’s what I hope to give here and I hope you enjoy it.  My unfiltered, honest opinion of the movies I see that I hate, love, like, regard as masterpieces, label junk, or believe are immediate classics.  I’m going to call ‘em as I see ‘em, with my own editorial flair.

I will be putting up a review every Sunday on average – sometimes more often, sometimes perhaps less, depending on what movies are premiering that week or what other goings-on may be on the agenda. So please come by and check me out.  And please feel free to comment anytime.

Welcome to Bloop! and Enjoy!

Mi-Mi Waters, M.S. holds a masters degree in school psychology.  She is a native New Yorker who aims to represent  herself from a prospective of an African American, female who absolutely loves movies.

Zoe. Giiiirl; You Better Bring It!

We move from the Oscars being “so white,” to not casting “black enough,” in an uproar over the casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone in the upcoming film Nina; further supporting the tried and true old adage that you cannot please all of the people all of the time, no matter what you do.

The movie industry is just that; an industry.  A business with a goal to make money above all else.  This becomes ever so apparent with the casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone.  Zoe is a known star.  Although she has been attached to big budget productions, I have not seen her in a role that affords her an opportunity to do much acting.  (Pardon me, but I did not see Columbiana.  I did see the first part of the Rosemary’s Baby remake and honestly I wasn’t impressed either way.)  In order to get butts in seats inside of theaters, a studio has to do what a studio has to do; even at the expense of authenticity.  Part of the decision may be based on the theory that using a lesser name would not motivate people to see the movie.  I like Zoe Saldana, but have never heard anyone saying they must see a movie because Zoe is in it, or saying that Zoe lit up a screen, or nailed a role (with the exception of Columbiana, which, again, I have not seen.  I have one friend who told me Zoe did a great job and she loved the movie).

The project has been plagued with scathing and scolding editorials which criticize every aspect of the film.  The writer is not black, the man who told the story is gay and of questionable character, the story is fictitious, the family did not cosign on the project nor were they consulted to fact check any detail of the story, Zoe Saldana is all wrong to play Nina – The list of complaints is long.  Whoever coined the phrase “There is no such thing as bad publicity” surely never came into contact with this project.  It’s pretty bad.

It is my opinion that at the heart of all this controversy is this – There is a temporary, fleeting beauty that fades over time and under other circumstances which we the people admire and fawn over until that fading begins, and then there is beauty that cannot be affected by anything.  This is inner beauty, that cannot be measured or touched.  Most importantly, what it can do is be felt.  This latter is the beauty, the essence and the spirit of Nina Simone.  Similarly to Maya Angelou, who many would not consider “classically” beautiful, Simone had an undeniable fire inside that could not be contained and made her gorgeous as a complete package.

Nina’s specific beauty is the type that only the nappy of hair and thick of lips can honestly relate to or relay.  If the actress chosen could have met THAT criteria, I believe the issue of “skin tone” would become of less importance.

More generally, we call them Nina, Janice, Cass; women who don’t necessarily have that “classic” beauty, but whose inner beauty is so powerful and shines so brightly through their craft that it cannot be denied.  To this day think of the reaction and cruel statements, jokes even, made about talented powerhouses such as Susan Boyle and Adele; even Celine Dion got the treatment early on in her career – based simply on outward appearance.  I am certain that any of these women would tell you that to leave out her appearance, is to leave out a huge part of her story.

To cast someone who does not look like Nina is an insult really.  Even today, “that look” isn’t even acceptable in her own story.  Think about that for a minute.

Again, I know little to nothing of Zoe Saldana’s acting skills so I am more than willing to reserve judgment until I see the finished product.  I have never seen Zoe in a dramatic role such as this, driving a film, but Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario, I want you to be fierce.  I want to look at this movie and see you acting so well I forget all about the makeup, and the controversy, and everything else but Nina!  I want you to shut up all the naysayers and act your ass off!  I hope you set that screen on fire!!!

Nina premiers in studios on Friday, April 22.  Come back and I will let you know what happens.

#Oscarssowhite

 

With #oscarssowhite having become all the rage this past award season, I decided to investigate what all the hubbub was about.  I saw every movie nominated in each main category before the Oscars, as I do every year.  This year I wanted to find out for myself if what was being said was true or if people of color were just being “sensitive” – as many believe is oftentimes the case any time the R word (Racism) is used, suggested, skimmed around, hinted at or implied.  Or, are the Oscars really so white?  Now, I know “Hollywood” is “white.”  We all know that.  Let’s not pretend.  It is and has always been white, originating at a time when non-white people had zero civil rights in this country – so of course people of color were rarely represented in the early works of Hollywood – unless it was absolutely necessary – and then only when necessary, and then only in bit parts for the most part.  But just because it always has been “white” doesn’t mean it has to remain that way.  Here is the short version of what I learned and my opinion.

For purposes of this article I am focusing on the films nominated in the major categories.  Those categories include, according to me:

Best Picture
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Best Actress in a Supporting Role

I also saw all films nominated for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Costume, Original Score and Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay.  There weren’t many more films nominated outside of the below 15, but for the purposes of this article we will discuss the above five categories most specifically.

  1. The Revenant
  2. The Martian
  3. Steve Jobs
  4. The Danish Girl
  5. Bridge of Spies
  6. The Big Short
  7. Spotlight
  8. Creed
  9. Room
  10. Carol
  11. 45 Years
  12. Brooklyn
  13. Mad Max, Fury Road
  14. The Hateful Eight
  15. Joy

Of those nominated in the Best Picture category, there were two diversely casted films– The Martian and The Revenant (to be discussed later).  The Martian offered a modern representation of what “the working world” really looks like; at least what it looks like here in New York.  (I cannot speak on what that picture looks like in other parts of the country.)  Due to its modern-day setting this diversity is possible and plausible.  With a cast of characters which included Black, Hispanic, Caucasian, Asian and Women in non-traditional roles (astronauts, engineers, advisors, etc.).  This film’s choice of supporting actors was outstanding.  Not only were they non-white, and some non-male, they were all talented in their craft.

I do believe, however, that Chiwetel Ejiofor should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor instead of Jeff Daniels.  While Jeff is the veteran, Chiwetel’s role was the more substantial and the more important of the two, which afforded him the opportunity to do more acting and stretch his “chops” more than Daniels in this film.

This brings me to this point – Along with being so white, the Academy needs to quit with the loyalty to veterans, stop giving out life time achievement nominations for long suffering non-Academy Award winners, and give credit where it is due based on the work in front of them today from the performance being considered.  No disrespect to Mr. Daniels, who did a fine job in his role, as always, but just as Chris Rock mentioned a “fraternity,” the Academy proves that is exactly what Hollywood recognition is like.  If you’re in the club, you’re golden.  If not, too bad for you.  How else could one explain Sylvester Stallone getting a Best Supporting Actor nomination?   Now I love a good Rocky movie as much as the next person, but the performance was less than stellar.  We’ve seen better Rocky movies that offered more tension and excitement, and we’ve seen Stallone do better work.  It is on this basis also that I did not believe Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan were necessarily “snubbed.”  The movie didn’t really move me like other Rocky movies have and Jordan’s role came off, for lack of a better word, dry, in my opinion.  I was much more upset that Jordan and the entire movie were overlooked for nominations for 2013’s Fruitvale Station.  I understand everyone was gushing over 12 Years a Slave and a slew of other strong contenders that year.  12 Years A Slave and the other movies nominated deserved every accolade, but Fruitvale Station was a strong, well made, small budget movie that deserved some recognition, in my opinion.

Another place the Academy made a faux pas was with the way the categories were set up for The Danish Girl.  Although she deservedly won for Best Supporting Actress, Alicia Vikander should not have been in that category.  Eddie Redmayne was nominated for Best Actor.  The roles they played were integral to one another.  It was not only the story of Lily Elbe.  Also and rather equally, it was the story of Gerda Wegener.  Either of them could be considered the title character, “The Danish Girl,” depending on one’s perspective and perception.  The role Vikander played was far too fleshed out to be considered a supporting role.  She was a fully developed and explored character; nearly as deeply as her co-star, Redmayne.  The only saving grace to this oversight is that it cleared the way for Brie Larson to win the Best Actress in a Leading Role award for her turn in Room, which was greatly deserved.

And speaking of Room, why, oh why, was Jacob Tremblay not nominated as a Best Supporting Actor?  The young man did a great job playing a child who was raised in captivity for the first five years of his life.  This cannot be an easy feat for a child in today’s technological connected world to pull off.  He did an impressive job; as impressive as any child actor and/or actress who has been nominated in past years.

One movie that was woefully missed on this list and in all categories was Suffragette.  I thought the movie was well done – a solid story with solid acting, directing, cinematography and costume design.  This movie depicted the lives of a group of women during the early feminist movement in Great Britain in the late-19th and early-20th century fighting for the right to vote. Carey Mulligan gave a strong and credible leading performance.  The story was interesting, as it not only covered the suffragist movement, but the total lack of women’s rights throughout history; some of which continue to be of issue to this day – from inequality in pay, spousal control and abuse, sexual harassment in the workplace, being seen as big mouths, bitches and/or trouble makers for standing up for ourselves and being bullied into silence by more powerful figures around them (men in general, police, government).  The Academy missed the mark on this one, as this film should surely have been considered for some sort of nomination, as it provided an abundance of good work to choose from.

I cannot discuss #oscarssowhite without bringing up The Butler (2013) (0 nominations) and Selma (2014) (nominated for Best Picture; won for original song).  Each caused a stir when they were thought to be overlooked in one way or another by the Academy during their respective nomination years – although that stir produced no hashtag.  At the time, I thought the treatment of these two films was fair due to the fact that the cast of each was too crammed with stars and roles to adequately meet the criteria for a Best Actor/Actress or Best Supporting Actor/Actress nomination there.  There were so many, many supporting roles, it made it difficult for any one performance to stand out as exceptional.  Why no one at the Academy or a representative thereof could not simply have stated this as a reason for the omission of these film’s actors not being nominated at the time is beyond me.  Perhaps they were afraid the truth would offend people further and hoped things would just die down.  By not addressing it, they set themselves up for the #oscarssowhite campaign.  Maybe next time get ahead of things and speak honestly.  People understand truth.

On the same token, how I felt about those movies is how I feel about Christian Bale (or any other actor therein) being nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for The Big Short.  Taking nothing away from Bale’s performance, the movie was just too chock full of characters, making it difficult to single anyone out for being outstanding in their role.  He may have had more lines because he’s Christian Bale.  I’m not certain.  I did not count – but not so many more that he stood out from any other actor in the film.  Perhaps he was nominated because he portrayed a character with Asperger’s?  I don’t know.  I do know that if my theory about crowded casts applies to one movie, it should apply to all.

Similarly, (referring back to the “fraternity,” and lifetime achievement awards), Leonardo DiCaprio’s nearly silent performance in The Revenant (the only other Best Picture nominee that made any attempt at diversity, and actually did a fine job of it, at that) was not the stuff best acting nominations are usually made of.  Did he win the award because he was quiet during the majority of the film and a quarter or so (again, I did not count) of the lines he did speak were in the Arikara Indigenous language?  I saw grunting, snotting, spitting, dragging, eating disgusting things, limping, but no real substantive acting going on.  Not the acting that was raved about by the media.  I thought his portrayal and the movie were highly overrated.  It was an interesting film, but not a movie I would ever want to watch again.  Once was enough.  I thought there were better performances given among the choices, including Bryan Cranston (I was rooting for you Walter White!) in Trumbo and Matt Damon in the Martian.

Having said all of this, if I could speak to the Academy, what would I say?:

1)     There is a lifetime achievement award given to one actor or actress annually for his and/or her body of work.  Nominations are not meant for lifetime achievement.  They are meant for single performance pieces in a film that was released in the prior year.

2)     There are women and children and people of color who are deserving of nominations.  It’s okay to nominate based on merit.

3)     #oscarssowhite is speaking to you for a reason.  You can’t help what films are presented to you, but you can help effect changes on the films that are nominated.  Stop looking only at the films that are sent to your house or office for review and phoning it in.  Go out into the world and explore those other films in all genres that tell stories of people of ethnicities, gender and sexual orientation, other than your own, whatever that ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation may be.  See the films that do not get press recognition and find out what is going on in the world of movie production – including movies with small budgets – you just might be surprised.  (Such as Dope (2015)).

So, to answer the initial question – Yes.  Oscar, you are white!  But worse than being white, you’re vanilla.  You are boring.  You are chauvinist.  You are predictable.  You are stuck in the past.  You are in a rut.

Thankfully, quality work is its own reward, and no one needs to be awarded to enjoy and continue to perfect their craft.  Lives don’t hang in the balance because someone was overlooked or won an award, and awards, or the lack thereof, do not make or break fine actors.  But the public has spoken and people want to see more diversity in stories.

I won’t beat the Academy up too badly.  It does not control who gets what roles in Hollywood.  Those who write and cast roles have to open their minds and see past a character’s color when possible – in order to effect change.  It is understandable that there were no black people in Carol, as it was set in the 50’s and was about two white women.  There’s nothing to be done about that and there is nothing wrong with it either.  No one is asking that artistic vision be compromised to include people of color “just because.”  Although, it would have been spicy if one of the lovers in Carol would have been a black woman . . . Just kidding.  Then it becomes an entirely different story; probably a much more interesting one as well.  I understand that depending on the script, and when and where it takes place, diversity and inclusion is not always possible – nor should it be mandatory because damnit, white people have stories to tell too!  As does every ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.  No one is asking Hollywood to respond to the pressure of #oscarssowhite by randomly sticking people of color in films to pacify the masses.  Please make sure that the talent is there and the role makes sense.

Evolve to a place where those who are capable and have put in the work have an opportunity to participate and the opportunity to shine.   And when they produce good work, acknowledge it please.  It comes down to equality and fairness.  I could very well be wrong and can speak for no one but myself, but I believe that’s what is really being asked by #oscarssowhite.

 

Image courtesy of http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/feb/25/oscarssowhite-right-and-wrong-academy-awards-audience#img-3 

Miles Ahead

 

If you are a fan of Mr. Don Cheadle, Miles Davis or biopics, Miles Ahead is a must see. Even if you are not a fan of biopics (While conducting some research on the authenticity of the story, Cheadle calls this an anti-biopic, as the story is an at-least-partially imaginary tale of what might have happened), this movie offers a fresh take on the genre by not attempting to cover the life span of an artist or band, but rather, focusing on one wild episode in the artists life which is filled with cool, adventure, and is used as a springboard for flashbacks which explain how Miles became who he was at the time the action is taking place.  Miles Ahead mashes genres as part anti-biopic, part bro/dude-adventure movie, providing the perfect vehicle for Cheadle’s debut passion project (he co-wrote, (first time) directed and stars in the film).  He demonstrates that the flaws of the man (ego, pride, and all around stubbornness), while negatively impacting his career and personal life, were also necessary and important components of his inner strength.  This movie is oozing with Don Cheadle’s passion for this project in all the right ways, and I immediately revisited Mr. Davis’ catalog afterward.