In the wake of the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, in all its fanfare, it feels like an auspicious time to look back on the long, winding road that got us to this point. Final Fantasy is a series that evokes wildly complicated feelings. Deep nostalgia, and a love for the clever mechanics and grand, operatic stories draw generations of fans to the series, but the series has grown, to a certain extent, into a bloated parody of itself. Micro-management, linearity, atrocious character design, and incomprehensible motivation have become some of the series hallmarks. Final Fantasy XV seems to acknowledge and seek a departure from the sins of the past, breaking with the turn based gameplay of previous titles. However, it’s worth seeing what brought us to this point. Reader be warned, this retrospective will be spoiler heavy.
Miles Davis wass a fantastic musician, guaranteed to be forever remembered for his innovation and skill. He permanently shaped the musical landscape, and those achievements are not to be understated. Nonetheless, he is not, in a conventional sense, famous. Although well known in his heyday, today, he remains unknown to a vast majority of Americans. Those who do know him, music fans and academics, know him by his music, and perhaps a few tidbits about his life.
“Miles Ahead”, Don Cheadle’s elaborate vanity project (Cheadle writing, directing, and starring in the title role), does not understand this. It can’t be concerned with such mundane things as plot, or characters. No, “Miles Ahead” is Capital A “Art”. Littered with ever so precious shots (“We’ll film a series of Polaroids instead of a montage! It’ll be perfect!”) and often repeated yet never explained platitudes (“Jazz is just a made up word. Call it “Social Music”,) the film can’t be bothered to tell us things like who Miles Davis is, how he got to the point we see him at, or why we’re supposed to care.