Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020, George Wolfe)

It’s singer Ma’s show, but the record producers whine about every last expense, and the new guy in the band gradually takes over the movie as he antagonizes everyone. Ma is Viola Davis, also great in Fences and Blackhat, who holds a certain amount of power as long as she expends all her energy every day holding onto it, and the new guy is Chadwick Boseman in his celebrated final role, mixing arrogant with tormented. The veterans: Michael “Brother Mouzone” Potts, Glynn “Mayor Royce” Turman, and bandleader Colman Domingo (Red Hook Summer preacher-accuser). Ma gets a stuttering relative to intro the band as a power move, while Chadwick speaks of himself in the third person – never a good sign. Sure enough, he pulls a knife on Domingo, gets fired from the band after the session, and finally stabs Turman over nothing. I don’t understand the editing – good performances, though. Opening scene is set an hour south of here, in Barnesville.


Chadwick in happier times with hottie Taylour Paige, star of last year’s Zola:

Turman, Domingo, Potts, an hour later after Chadwick has pulled a knife:

Chadwick, boxed in: