Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ★★★½

On stage, the best playwrights exploit the theatrical limitations of time and space and bend human language to the will of their imaginations. Such a playwright is August Wilson. But taking Wilson's poetry off the stage and onto the screen can occasionally feel like going from the earth to the moon—or vice versa: the gravity is different. Words in particular have a different weight. But if occasionally, this "Ma Rainey" fails to soar, it's certainly no fault of the ace cast. Boseman is electric and every moment of his on-screen is a painful reminder of what we lost with his death. And Davis. I mean what can you say. She's one of the best ever.

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