Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

I much preferred Fences, largely because there’s actually character development there. Here, Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman’s characters just become more intense over the course of the movie, but they stay pretty static within themselves. They don’t evolve or change or learn anything in particular. Their stasis makes it harder to ignore the film’s staginess.

There are good monologues in there though, and I liked how August Wilson’s writing deals complexly with issues of power between the black musicians and the white managers (who has it? how do they use it? how do they keep it?). And of course, Boseman and Davis give mighty performances.