Ethan Hawke

Playing Chet Baker in 'Born to be Blue' was an unexpected second chance for Ethan Hawke

Playing Chet Baker in 'Born to be Blue' was an unexpected second chance for Ethan Hawke

There was some symmetry at work in this year’s release schedule, which included two movies drawn from the storied history of jazz. One, “Miles Ahead,” centered on Miles Davis as a genius fallen into dark seclusion in the late ’70s and the other, “Born to Be Blue,” looked at fellow trumpeter Chet Baker and his battle with a heroin addiction. A bit unfairly for such a rare cinematic subject, both films were released only a week apart this spring.

Both offer snapshots in time for two revered musicians, and both toy with facts to upend biopic conventions. And both hinge upon their central performances in Cheadle, who inhabits the gruff, laconic...

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