The biopic is a tricky thing. Filmmakers need be wary, in developing cinematic depictions of the personal and professional lives of celebrated individuals, of the perfect recipe for a movie that is both satisfactorily accurate and wholly interesting. There’s always the additional boost of flavor when a biopic focuses on a music legend.
For one, the inclusion of the music itself spices up any story. Additionally, musicians tend to be celebrated as artists and individuals beyond most other types of individuals; it’s not too hard to understand, either. Music is such an accessible, universal yet personal kind of art that provokes a range of emotionality that few other things can. And when it comes to cinema, I think few other styles of music are as suited for the screen as jazz. This is why a developing Miles Davis biopic, to be directed by George Tillman, Jr. (Notorious), doesn’t sound like too shabby of an idea.
Of course, biopics are often hit or miss. We remember fondly Walk the Line, and La Bamba…we don’t have such great things to say about The Doors, and did anyone even know that De-Lovely happened? But as Miles Davis’ family is involved to create an honest story “without any sugar-coating,” we’re a bit optimistic.
But biopics are a pretty regimented format. It’d be nice to see a little freedom of form and creativity of style in this movie, as the legend Miles Davis would in nature warrant. For my money, one of the most spirited professional biopics out there is of another jazz legend: Fats Waller, who was celebrated in the Mos Def/Jack Black film Be Kind Rewind. I know, many will disagree that this was in the strictest terms a biopic…but it told the story and captured the flavor of a great musician. Also, there was a magnetized man improvising an ad hoc Ghostbusters ripoff. So…win-win?