Don Cheadle is an amazingly busy man. In addition to working on the book ‘Not On Our Watch’, which arose from his time in Africa working on Hotel Rwanda, his own Crescendo Productions has five pictures in the pipline, starting with Cheadle’s (new) directorial debut: a biography of legendary trumpeter Miles Davis.
The Davis biopic is an ideal vehicle for Cheadle; my only hope is that the film focuses on a particular period in his life, or even a single decade. Ray felt thin and scattered, and that’s a portrait of a guy who worked in a comparitively simple mode compared to Davis, who hit the New York scene in ’44 and released his last acclaimed record in ’86. The forty years in between are filled with major records in several different styles, heroin addiction in the ’50s, opening for rock bands in the ’70s, a five-year retreat from the public eye starting in ’75, the inevitable cocaine addiction, and a slow climb back to relevance in the ’80s. I can’t forsee even a three-hour film that does justice to the times of Birth of the Cool (’57, recorded at the beginning of the decade), Kind of Blue (’60) and Bitches Brew (’70), much less all the attendant details.
Also on Cheadle’s shingle is a quartet of other films:
Traitor - Jeff Nachmanoff (The Day After Tomorrow) writes and directs Cheadle as a Fed embedded in a terrorist organization who may have become too deeply embedded.
Quest to Ref - Ben Watkins and Guy Guillet script about a lawyer who follows his dreams and becomes a professional basketball ref.
Broken Adonis - Peter Biegen script, possiblly Micheal Apted to direct Cheadle as an ex-con who falls in with a female border patrol agent.
Marching Powder - Cheadle’s a drug dealer who spent five years guiding tours in Bolivia’ famously awful San Pedro Prison.
That, of course, is in addition to the three films Cheadle will have opening this year: Oceans 13, Reign Over Me and Talk To Me. Hope you like looking at the guy.