Having recently watched two different films about two different musical legends, I have found myself not so much marinating on the movies themselves, but the main thread in both of them. This is not a review, although, I will say that Miles Ahead is a great movie for the performances alone and the fact that its kind of silly in some spots, (not to mention entirely fictional, kind of sad). While Montage of Heck almost gave me a sense of perverted intrusion into the life of a man I admired greatly as a young boy. But all the aside, what both movies should do, I hope, is make people who otherwise wouldn’t think of these two men, take the time to look them up and maybe interpret their music, motivations and actions in a way they wouldn’t have before the viewing. Sometimes I think I don’t watch these things in the correct manner. It’s only in situations like this. Miles Davis was one of the greatest musicians in an age of many great musicians. I enjoyed the movie immensely, as stated, because Don Cheadle gives a great performance as the man. What it really shows, or tries to I think, is what happens to a man who constantly has music and motions and addictions streaming through a half-burnt brain. The notion that all great men eventually hit a wall at some point is painted on the screen quite vividly as we see “Miles” in a complete mess of a mental state, battling demons and bad habits. The way it showcases this is maybe the most truthful part of the movie and is what I walked out feeling from it. Especially in the way it seems to say, (of Miles implies in the film), that he has given so much already, what more do you want?
Ah, but its all about the money and contracts, is it not? The masses demand new music, never satisfied, always more, more, more, and if they don’t like what they’ve demanded they reject it and you, in turn are called washed up or misunderstood. The images of great artists are almost always fabricated. It’s a poster. A punchline. The crushing weight of expectations on already fragile minds drives most men to break down. Miles should be thankful he didn’t exist when Cobain did. In the wholly new arena of MTV and the image that had to compliment the music; Cobain should thank heaven he didn’t live to see the Internet and the cascade of attention seeking hacks that have pockmarked the reality TV frontier. The one wish I may have of both of them seeing this age would be just to hear their opinions on it, but this is pushed aside by the simple relief that they were never burdened with the expectations that this age in humanity would have undoubtedly thrust upon them. To grow old under a constant spotlight would be bad for the skin and there would be plenty of harmful, bitter people out there ready to tell them how decrepit their faces look under the glare, in a tense 140 character kind of way. Cobain especially may not have been cut out for it. Interviews within the documentary magnify an already known fact of just how sensitive the man was. Its a noble trait. The most wonderful, (and slightly disturbing), pieces of Montage of Heck include home videos that prove to people that he was indeed a real man, who brushed his teeth, shaved his face, had feelings, a sense of humor and was in love with his wife and daughter.
In both movies, though, its how both artists stress that its about their art more than anything else. It really is a refreshing thing to see and hear today. The movies have a way of making you nostalgic for those particular days when there were real people out there in the world of music. The addictions of both men surely sped up whatever demise you may want to place upon them, but it could said they were both the last great artists of their respective fields. Not just that, but actual humans who weren’t afraid to show themselves as they were. I wish Miles was still breathing into that trumpet. I yearn for the humanity of Cobain. I understand their plights in life and I am glad their art survives. Even though, now its become what both always feared it would become. A poster. A punchline.