It’s amazing to think that Louis Malle was just 24 when he made the classic film noir Elevator to the Gallows. The 92-minute feature, headlined by late actress Jeanne Moreau and featuring an iconic score from Miles Davis, hits Blu-ray and DVD February 6.
The feature centers on lovers (Moreau, Maurice Ronet) who plan to murder her husband. Their plan eventually goes south, and the walls gradually close in on their existence. Along with Davis’ score and Malle’s assured direction, the feature also features the rich, black and white visuals of cinematographer Henri Decaë.
Special features on both versions include a 2005 interview with Moreau, archival interviews with Malle and Ronet, and original session pianist René Urtege, Malle’s student movie Crazeology (which features the Charlie Parker song of the same name), trailers, and a booklet featuring an essay from critic Terrence Rafferty, an interview with Malle, and a tribute by producer Vincent Malle.
If you’re a fan of jazz, you know that the music form can be moving and captivating, pulling you in with the flow, but it can also be equally maddening and chaotic in its attempts to reach genius. In many ways, Miles Ahead fits both extremes.
Don Cheadle embodies jazz legend Miles Davis, a legend we’re introduced to as a somewhat broken man. He’s hidden himself away from the music world for five years and has more or less shut out the rest of the world as well, while he attempts to reclaim his status with a much in-demand new album. He lives in an unkempt apartment, hobbles around while self-medicating and can only be bothered by the outside world when his latest check fails to show up.
Enter English writer Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor), who has been knocking at Davis door hoping to score an interview with no success. But when Miles needs to confront his label about their pulling of funds and the appearance of Brill, who claims he was sent from Rolling Stone on behalf of the label, he finally relents so long as Brill will drive him to the label.
What follows is a meeting that sets up all the players in the film, as the label is chomping at the bit to get his new music, shady agent Harper Hamilton (Michael Stuhlbarg) attempts to curry favor for his young artist (Keith Stanfield) and Brill is revealed to have stretched the truth a bit hoping to get a story, while Davis shows us one of several times in the film where he’s willing to fight for what’s his.
From there, the film starts to alternate between present day and Davis‘ past. We see him meeting and falling in love with stunning dancer Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi) and how their romance propelled him to some of his most creative heights. But the past also uncovers Davis as an insecure man, unwilling to allow Taylor to have her own career and increasingly paranoid in the wake of his own infidelity and drug use. Ultimately, it’s both of Davis fallacies that led to the couple’s split. Meanwhile, in present day, Davis continued association with Brill and also unwillingly with Hamilton and his artist leads to a stolen tape caper filled with action, gunplay and a surprisingly heartbreaking at first yet interesting resolution.
The transitions between modern day and past are done cleverly at times, but the plot device ultimately proved maddening as well. Yes, you get the hint of what’s going on in the past, but the shifts between time periods occasionally feel as though it is stopping the momentum of the story.
However, that being said, Cheadle’s portrayal of Davis as a hardened, flawed man with an unrelenting set of principles when it came to his music is one that should be remembered come award season, and Corinealdi is captivating for many of the moments she’s on screen as well. The story may not work for everyone, focusing so much time on the caper of the stolen tape, but the payoff is grand and the film itself gives just enough, though maybe not the full insight into the genius of Miles Davis.
In The Guard (opening Friday), Don Cheadle is an FBI agent who travels to Ireland and teams up with a local, hooker loving cop (Brendan Gleeson) to stop a drug operation. The feature is directed by John Michael McDonagh, whose brother Martin directed Gleeson in In Bruges.
During an interview to promote the film, Cheadle talked about the challenge of getting one of his passion projects, a film about jazz great Miles Davis, off the ground. The feature is not, according to Cheadle, a “cradle to the grave” biopic but rather a day in the life look into the late musician’s world.
Click on the media bar below to hear Cheadle give details on the Miles Davis project.
Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna star in "Harry Loves Lisa" on TV Land
No sooner than we announced yesterday about lush Lisa Rinna coping with lip-reduction post-op than TV Land gives HollywoodOutbreak.com an exclusive scoop (along with ten million others), that Rinna‘s reality show, Harry Loves Lisa(10:00 pm EST/PST on TV Land), will be on tonight for everyone to watch.
“As cameras capture Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin’s hectic lives,” the press release oh-so cleverly says, (they find that) “their boutique was robbed and People.com announced Lisa had her upper lip reduced.”
Then, as if that weren’t enough, “Lisa discovers she can correct her lip, Harry struggles to get back into the acting world,” (good luck), “and the couple battles to keep their store, Belle Gray, afloat…all while raising their two daughters and trying to manage a Hollywood lifestyle.”
Where the laughs never stop and the shenanigans of Lisa‘s hair-brained schemes will leave you with a strychnine-smile and sore sides.
Well, I’ll be watching, along with the ghost of Miles Davis (and all the other cool people) to see how our smart, beautiful betters do it when dumb, ugly me has trouble just putting in and out his dogs and cats at the right times.
Click Here for a special invitation recorded yesterday from Lisa Rinna: