“Well, I really want to encourage a kind of fantasy, a kind of magic. I love the term magic realism, whoever invented it – I do actually like it because it says certain things. It’s about expanding how you see the world. I think we live in an age where we’re just hammered, hammered to think this is what the world is. Television’s saying, everything’s saying ‘That’s the world.’ And it’s not the world. The world is a million possible things.”
Black Bottom starts with a magnetic and memorable opening scene. Viola is at once alluring and gravitational. Her character ‘Ma’ or ‘Ma Rainey’ is a powerful role. She lingers with the viewer long after the credits roll. That distinctive face and sooty make up engulf you. Boseman’s ‘Levee’ is deserving of the attention he’s received. For me though he’s a bit too big and the character a bit too sharp on the edges. I was particularly fond of the understated performance of Colman Domingo. Whose become a favorite of mine over these last couple years following his turn in If Beale Street Could Talk.
Though I’m happy to see August Wilson’s Plays are becoming available to the masses, I can’t help but brood on how much more engrossing, and how much more deeply I might be moved had I seen this live rather than at home. A particular pick I have to nit is the obvious and ultimately drab choice to have a door that leads to nowhere play so crucial to the third act. I don’t mind a foreshadow here or Chekhov’s gun there, but my God that was telegraphed a mile away. Despite my hang ups this is still near the top of the heap in the bevy of award season releases we’ve seen recently and one I’d recommend to just about any viewer.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Trailer
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is available to stream thru Netflix