Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ★★★★

ferocious performances from chadwick boseman and viola davis keep the staginess from overwhelming this, something that great turns by davis and denzel washington couldn't do for 'fences' imo. (the much shorter run time may also have something to do with this.)

i'm not sure if it's because of his heartbreaking death, but as great as davis is, this felt like boseman's movie and goddamn if he doesn't absolutely torch the screen. (this is no slight to the usual flawless job by national treasure davis!)

shoutouts also to the rest of the cast, especially colman domingo, glynn turman, and michael potts as the boys in the band, and jeremy shamos as a record producer, or as i thought of it, the hank azaria role.

so if it often feels very much like [extremely posh british accent] THEATUH, with chewy monologues and little in the way of sets, it moves along fairly briskly, riding the lightning of august wilson's words and the work of its stars.

in the end, if this had to be boseman's last performance, it was definitely one to go out on. but i still wish it didn't have to be.

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