Stanley Nelson's New Film: Birth of the Cool

Saturday March 30th 2019 @ 7 PM
Sunnyside Reformed Church 48-03 Skillman Avenue Sunnyside, NY 11104

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

“Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” Miles Davis is the one jazz figure of the postwar era who had, and still has, the larger-than-life quality of a pop star. Like Picasso or Dylan, he had a mystique rooted not just in his genius but in his cult of personality, and the mystique only grew the more he mutated — from the glaring-eyed cool cat of the ’50s to the sunken-cheeked fusion hipster of the late ’60s to the raspy funk sci-fi badass of legend. So any documentary that wants to take in Miles Davis has to grapple with each of his dimensions and how they fit together. That’s just what Stanley Nelson’s film does. It’s a tantalizing portrait: rich, probing, mournful, romantic, triumphant, tragic, exhilarating, and blisteringly honest. Nelson is a filmmaker with a sixth sense for how to nudge history into the present, and he catches the spiritual essence of Miles’ story, from the racial despair that spun him into heroin addiction to the drama of his head-turning love affairs to the stunning 3:00 a.m. bebop romanticism of “Kind of Blue” to the six-year break he took from picking up his horn, during which he holed himself up in his townhouse, a burnout trying to claw his way back to freedom. The way the movie presents it, it’s all part of the same story: his need to cast music as a form of possession. — OG