Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

At one point or another, nearly every person interviewed in Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool slips into an impression of Davis’ gravely speaking voice. It’s a minor detail in this superb documentary about the famed trumpeter, but a telling one: No matter how awful he was (ill-tempered and drug-hungry, Davis was also notoriously abusive to the women in his life), everyone in his orbit wanted to be Miles Davis. Director Stanley Nelson makes a great case for the allure of Davis’ ineffable cool and creative genius, while not shying away from his uglier qualities—a sometimes tricky balance that this film handles easily.

by Robert Ham
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Stanley Nelson