Tuesday, April 13, 2021

MOVIE WEEKEND: MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

In case you didn't see my update on Nomadland, it won British Academy Film Awards for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actress.

My word for Nomadland is beautiful, and my word for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is lush (2020; Rated R; it had a limited release in theaters and is now available only on Netflix, where I watched it).

This movie is completely different from Nomadland, and I love both movies. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Actor (Chadwick Boseman); Best Actress (Viola Davis); Best Production Design (Mark Ricker, Karen O'Hara, Diana Stoughton); Best Make-up and Hair Styling (Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson); Best Costume Design (Ann Roth). 

It's 1927. Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) is late. She's supposed to be at the recording studio, but she arrives when she wants to arrive. No matter that the white executives want to control her. They can't do it. 

But the situation there is tense. Ma is not happy, and she becomes even more unhappy because of the behavior of her young horn player, Levee Green (Chadwick Boseman). Tension builds and builds and builds until it breaks.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is based on the play of the same name by August Wilson. It is so well written. I have yet to see Viola Davis give a performance that isn't astounding, and her portrayal of Ma Rainey is no exception. I confess I wondered if Chadwick Boseman was nominated at least in part because he passed away from colon cancer after completing this movie, but I certainly don't think that now. He more than holds his own against a number of veteran actors and is outstanding. 

Netflix also has a 31-minute documentary called Ma Rainey's Black Bottom: A Legacy Brought To The Screen. I recommend it. It helped me understand the costume and make-up choices.

I hope you have the opportunity to watch this movie and appreciate it as much as I did.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

24 comments:

  1. I'll be watching Ma Rainey next, per your recommendation ;)

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  2. We love this movie too. Viola Davis was great in her role, but Chadwick Boseman was outstanding in his. He gave an absolutely searing, gut-wrenching performance and I predict will deservedly get the Best Actor Oscar.

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    1. I think he'll win Best Actor, too, and he should.

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  3. I am so glad that you are enjoying these movies. 'Lush' is a wonderful one word description.

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  4. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was exceptional!

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  5. I'll have to look for "Ma Rainey." I don't think it's available on our British Netflix, but I could be wrong. I really, REALLY want to see "Nomadland."

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    1. Nomadland is so good. Do you have Hulu in England? Hulu offers a free trial that would give you the chance to see Nomadland without a commitment to the service.

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  6. I love Viola Davis who is one of the best actresses ever and the same with Chadwick Boseman. I am still in shock that he died as are many people. I really want to see this film and hope to before the Oscars.

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    1. I hope you get to see it, Birgit. It's so good.

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  7. You have beaten me to another movie in my queue. Sounds like a good one! Thanks for the advice on the documentary, too. That I didn't know about. :)

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    1. Ma Rainey is streaming on Netflix. I know you get the DVDs, but I thought you had streaming, too.

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    2. Yes, I have both--and queues in both. ;)

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    3. I have loads of stuff waiting for me. Not enough hours in the day to watch everything good.

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  8. Five academy award nominations? Sounds like a work of art.
    Thanks for the recommendation.
    Love ya.

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    1. Academy Award nominations for this movie are well deserved.

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  9. I wondered about this movie. Thanks for the review.

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  10. Hi Janie - this is definitely one I want to see ... it's had great reviews - thanks for your thumbs up! Cheers Hilary

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    1. I hope you get to see it soon, Hilary. It's wonderful.

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  11. I love Viola Davis, I must see this movie!

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    1. Viola Davis is a brilliant actress, and Chadwick Boseman is amazing.

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