Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Review

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This adaptation of August Wilson’s stage show of the same name is set in a recording studio in Chicago. The air was so hot, the location was far from comfortable, especially the room where the band members practiced, namely the ground that was almost without ventilation. We can feel the stuffiness due to the smell of dust that will make anyone short of breath for a moment. All this adds to the reasons for the characters getting involved in the argument. Lots of arguments, because Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is indeed a film about arguments. Top Movie Site

In 1927, Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), the legendary blues singer, was scheduled to do recordings, including for the flagship song Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which had two versions. The three band members choose Ma’s original version as usual, while the trumpet player Levee (Chadwick Boseman) insists on the version being played, something their manager, Irvin (Jeremy Shamos) supports. Levee was reluctant to be arranged. He knows he is talented, especially after Mel Sturdyvan (Jonny Coyne), as the owner of the studio, asked him to write songs and promised the opportunity to lead his own band.

The difference of opinion above is only one of the many problems that sparked a split between Levee and the other band members. Then Ma arrives with his girlfriend, Dussie (Taylour Paige), and his stuttering nephew, Sylvester (Dusan Brown). Later, the two of them provoked another conflict between the people in the narrow building.

With almost three decades of experience working on theater, director George C. Wolfe (Nights in Rodanthe) uses several theatrical methods to strengthen focus in certain moments, for example making the actor convey important lines while standing with his back to other players. The method that makes Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom retain its source color adaptation. But at the same time, Wolfe also uses close ups, to produce a dramatic effect that a stage show with all its limitations cannot achieve. Best Movie

Davis played Ma with authority and explosion. A force of nature figure that leaves no opportunity for the opponent’s argument. Attitudes that are not (only) triggered by arrogance or star syndrome, come from the understanding that without it, as a black woman, it will be difficult for her to be appreciated by the public. While Boseman moved and danced vigorously, like someone who just wanted to have fun. Until the character’s background (which we peeked at in the opening scene) is revealed, giving Boseman the opportunity to show the most touching performance of his career, through a monologue that will break the hearts of the audience as well as give him an Oscar. It was too soon to go.

The majority of arguments come from clashing ideals based on artistic passion. Ma wanted the old way, which to him was the “true blues.” Instead, Levee wanted to provide something that would make listeners happy. A song that can accompany their dance.

You could say, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a battle of the past and the future. But it goes beyond that when race matters take part. It’s old way is not an option, but the only way left for black people, while Levee’s new way means “no way”. All because of racism in the music industry. In this film you will find the issue of “white people stole black music”, which results in, no matter how hard black musicians try to make a breakthrough to open the door called “opportunity”, what awaits a dead end. Movie Review

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