Anthony Horowitz, talking about Alfred Hitchcock, thought being unbalanced/ neurotic is often part of a great artist’s makeup. Miles Ahead is about a human being who happened to be black, to be a great musician and to be very troubled. Don Cheadle starred, directed, produced and co-wrote Miles Ahead. Usually, I’d dismiss that as Vanity Productions Incorporated. Instead, it comes across as a valentine to the wonderful, screwed up musician, Miles Davis. It was not a prepackaged setup for a possible academy award. The blacks were not slaves (victims) or preachers (saints). They were people. Davis loved his wife, the dancer Frances Taylor, played by Emayatzy Corinealdi, but he was a lousy husband who treated her as a precious possession. The Scottish actor, Ewan McGregor, was completely believable as a free lance writer who would do anything for a story. The almost invisible but always present narrator, neither appealing nor repulsive, McGregor was human. Imagine! a film which features humans. Prejudice was present but it was handled as the prejudiced person’s problem that blacks had to deal with. Davis, Francis Taylor, and Davis’s band skirted around it.
Friends and I met at the Joyce for a Sunday afternoon of the Pennsylvania Ballet. The ballet was so-so but there isn’t a bad seat in the Joyce. Way back in the mid-twentieth century, the Joyce was the Elgin movie house/ porn house. It was closed down by the community. In 1982 the building was completely renovated and the Joyce, named after a rich benefactor’s daughter, was born.
On Tuesday I participated in a talk about Leonardo Sciascia’s The Day of the Owl, a police procedural that takes place in Sicily. The next evening at the Italian Cultural Institute
I listened to a lecture on the Italian women writers, Elsa Morante, Anna Maria Ortese.
“In human relationships, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.”
Graham Greene. Greene died 25 years ago.