Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ★★½

some directors really just see a play and are like hmmm you know what let me whip out a camera, shot reverse shot this and call it a no GO HOME FATHOM EVENTS

all i’m saying is if you're gonna adapt a play adapt it then??? there’s boundless room for creativity when it comes to interpreting source material and i always find it odd that so many directors just settle for less and treat it like an 80-year-old filming their grandson’s middle school recital on a screen-cracked iPad. i have no problem with single-location shooting but that commitment usually needs to be backed by a presentational punch (think the long-take gimmick of rope, experimental editing of the connection, or anachronistic production design of edward II) because otherwise it just comes off as lazy and leaves the actors out to dry. film is an inherently visual medium so either leave the play as is plus meticulous blocking and coverage (best example that comes to mind is the og boys in the band) OR take it to an entirely different planet because without those the lead (in this case a show-stopping viola davis) is up the creek without a paddle

vern liked these reviews