Miles Ahead

Sony Pictures Classics

Rated R for drug use, nudity, sexuality, brief violence and pervasive profanity

Cheadle Channels Legendary Jazz Great In Warts-And-all Biopic

It’s no secret that Don Cheadle wanted to make a movie about Miles Davis (1926-1991) for over a decade. Well, the wait is finally over for jazz fans eager to see the warts-and-all biopic chronicling some of the highs and lows of the legendary trumpeter’s checkered career.

Cheadle not only produced, directed, and co-wrote his labor of love, but handles the title character in a haunting performance where he manages to channel the spirit of Miles oh so convincingly, from the gravelly voice to the mercurial temperament.

But while the impersonation might be spot on, the surreal screenplay leaves a lot to be desired. The script eschews a conventional, chronological approach to storytelling in favor of a free form structure featuring a series of vignettes focusing less on the man’s music than his messy private life.

The picture’s point of departure is 1975, when we find Miles in the midst of a self-imposed, five-year break from the music business. He spends his days barricaded in his New York apartment consuming copious amounts of drugs to mask the pain caused by a chronic hip condition.

The plot thickens with the intrusion into this fortress of solitude of a pushy Rolling Stone reporter (Ewan McGregor) in search of a scoop about a rumored comeback. Dave Braden proceeds to circumvent a very skeptical Davis’ disdain for journalists by agreeing to serve as his chauffeur and to procure cocaine on his behalf. Unfortunately, Dave also has a hidden agenda, namely, gaining possession of the master tape of Miles’ next album, if it exists.

Meanwhile, the icon is conveniently given to reminiscing about his past, which allows for intermittent flashbacks, most about his tempestuous relationship with his first wife, Frances (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Yes, the soundtrack contains a few classic tunes, but far too few precious few

An impressionistic portrait where jazz takes a back seat to the protagonist’s personal failings.

 

Very Good (3 stars)

Running time: 100 minutes

Studio: Crescendo Productions

 

 

Meet The Blacks

Freestyle Releasing

Rated R for sexuality, violence, ethnic slurs, drug use and pervasive profanity

‘Hood Meets High Society In Politically-Incorrect Parody Of The Purge

After coming into a small fortune under suspicious circumstances, Carl Smith (Mike Epps) decides to move his family from the ghetto in Chicago to Blanco Cielo, an exclusive development in Beverly Hills. Accompanying him on the cross-country trip are his wife Lorena (Zulay Henao), dating-age daughter Allie (Bresha Webb), and adolescent son Carl, Jr. (Alex Henderson).

Upon their arrival, Carl proceeds to offend everyone he encounters, starting with the gated community’s security guard whom he calls too dark-skinned to profile another black person. Despite the fact that the African immigrant is merely attempting to do his job, he is also accused of having the Ebola virus.

Next, when Lorena hires an Asian manicurist (Kathrien Ahn), Carl asks her to give him “some Chinese head.” Charming. And during a get acquainted stroll around the neighborhood, he manages to antagonize assorted neighbors, too.

More importantly, however, he also learns that “The Purge” is set to start at 7 pm. If you are familiar with the horror flick of the same name, then you know that means that all crimes will be legal during the impending 12-hour period, even murder.

What ensues is a politically-incorrect parody closely patterned on the original. For instance, Allie’s boyfriend (Andrew Bachelor) shows up unannounced, and Carl, Jr. proves to be a technical whiz with a robot and a drone at his disposal, just like their counterparts in The Purge.

After sundown, a number of adversaries descend on the estate, one-by-one, each with evil intentions, including a Ku Klux Klansman (Michael Caradoona), a repo man (DeRay Davis), a revenge-minded parolee (Charlie Murphy), Carl’s ex-wife Shoranda (Tameka “Tiny” Cottle) and his crazy cousin Cronut (Lil Duval). Unfortunately, co-writer/director Deon Taylor decided to appeal to the lowest common denominator repeatedly during this unfunny, demeaning throwback reminiscent of Amos ‘n’ Andy.

Anything for a laugh, regardless of how self-hating or hurtful the joke might be. An expletive and N-word laced descent into modern minstrelsy.

 

Poor (0 stars)

Running time: 90 minutes

Studio: Hidden Empire Film Group

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening April 8, 2016

 

The Boss (R for sexuality, profanity and brief drug use) Melissa McCarthy plays the title character in this comedy about a business tycoon convicted of insider trading who attempts to re-brand herself as America’s sweetheart after her release from prison. Cast includes Kathy Bates, Kristen Bell, Cecily Strong and Peter Dinklage.

 

Demolition (R for profanity, drug use, disturbing behavior and some sexual references) Bittersweet dramedy about a recently-widowed investment banker (Jake Gyllenhaal) who finds an unlikely shoulder to cry on in a cash-strapped, customer service rep (Naomi Watts) with a company he has a gripe with. Featuring Heather Lind, Judah Lewis, Chris Cooper and Royce Johnson.

 

Hardcore Henry (R for pervasive profanity, incessant mayhem and graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and drug use) Revenge thriller, set in Moscow, about a vigilante’s attempt to rescue his wife (Haley Bennett) who’s been kidnapped by a Russian warlord (Danila Kozlovsky) with an army of assassins. Cast includes Sharlto Copley, Tim Roth and Will Stewart. (In English and Russian with subtitles)

 

Havana Motor Club (Unrated) Classic car documentary about Cuba’s first, state-sanctioned drag race since 1960. (In Spanish and English with subtitles)

 

High Strung (PG for mature themes and mild epithets) Romance drama about a Manhattan street musician (Nicholas Galitzine) and a ballet student from the Midwest (Keenan Kampa) who fall in love at first sight upon her arrival in New York City. With Jane Seymour, Sonoya Mizuno and Paul Freeman.

 

Look At Us Now, Mother (Unrated) Gayle Kirschenbaum directed this dysfunctional family documentary chronicling her decades-long challenging relationship with her mother.

 

Mr. Right (R for violence and pervasive profanity) Romantic comedy about a woman (Anna Kendrick) who becomes smitten with an intriguing suitor (Sam Rockwell) unaware that he’s a professional hit man on the run from miffed mobsters. With Tim Roth, RZA, Anson Mount and James Ransone.

 

Vita Activa: The Spirit Of Hannah Arendt (Unrated) Thought-provoking documentary revisiting the checkered career of Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), the self-hating Jewish philosopher who escaped Europe during the Holocaust only to later express sympathy for Nazi war criminals like Adolph Eichmann. (In English, Hebrew and German with subtitles)

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