Archive for December 21st, 2020

by Sam Juliano

Wishing all our dear friends and longtime readers a very Merry Christmas and continues safely during this most difficult of times.  Lucille and I have been hunkered at home watching films and preparing for the holiday, though we still report to school in a building where very few are still at hand during this “virtual at home” period.  Plenty of Christmas-related classic films and decorating, though this past week squirrels bit through the wires on our outdoors holiday lights twice consecutively forcing us to leaves things be and go with the indoor displays and tree.

Though we saw four more 2020 films (unlike last week all are recommended) I am for the time being only reporting on one of them and have used my star ratings to convey where I stand on the quartet.  I am an August Wilson Broadway junkie. Lucille and I have seen six productions of his plays over the years (Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Two Trains Running and Radio Golf) and I consider him the finest American playwright post-Williams. However, we have NOT seen “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” on stage. Nonetheless the shattering, richly filmed and costumed film version, directed by George Wolfe is masterful and it features some of the best performances in any movie this year, especially by a tortured Chadwick Boseman and the titular character played by Viola Davis in the best turn of her career. The drama, expansively exploring black musicians fighting racism in 1927, is replete with searing monologues, and is because of swirling, textured camerawork miraculously keeps claustrophobia at a long distance is an emotional roller coaster that builds in momentum and even features several instances of drama within a drama like the segment when Ma demands several bottles of Coca-Cola before she will agree to record. The use of music is magisterial and time and place is powerfully evoked. Boseman’s work is master class.

note:  I will very soon respond to the fascinating comments on the previous MMD from Bobby J., Mark and others!


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