Miles Davis biopic, less about making art than it is about everything that gets in the way of that —mostly commerce, but also relationships: some old (a lost love), some new (a pesky journalist looking to tell a comeback story), and some ongoing (an even more pesky recording industry looking for a session tape). At the story’s outset, the jazz trumpet legend is entombed in his apartment: it’s been five years since he’s released any new music, and even his fans have lost the thread: a Davis tribute on the radio rhapsodizes over his early work, but our hero knows the past is dead, man. He wants to be an artist, not a legend, and despite star (and director and co-writer) Don Cheadle’s benumbed countenance, the fear in his eyes makes it clear that he’s anxious on that score — can I still do this? The historical stuff shows up in steady beats inspired by the present-day action, which keeps it from feeling too fusty. Ultimately, Cheadle’s labor of love prizes the music-making over the music, and maybe even over the man. (2015) — Matthew Lickona
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