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MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL

MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL

  • Directed by Stanley Nelson
  • BFI London Film Festival
  • 2019 | 115mins | USA, UK | rated (15)

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Veteran documentarian Stanley Nelson takes on the multifaceted creativity and myriad contradictions of Miles Davis in a mere two hours. This detailed, textured chronology offers something for all, from jazz newbies to viewers who’ve long been drowning in the ocean of genre-expanding music that poured from the musician’s magically muted trumpet. Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool swings through five decades of sonic innovation: from hard bop to heavenly orchestrations, the ambient acoustics of Kind of Blue to the funky fusion of Bitches Brew. It’s a treasure trove of electrifying archive and authoritative interviewees (including several collaborators and ex-lovers), which smartly deploys extracts from Miles’s searing autobiography. The film also explores his impact on black cultural identity and doesn’t flinch from discussing the violent, drug-fuelled ravages of a troubled and troubling icon.