Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ★★★

Reason to watch: Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis.

Reason to not: Fails to escape its stage origins. This feels way too much like a registration of a play, which is too bad since there’s plenty of opportunity here to elevate the filmic qualities (sex, violence, intimidation, racism and especially music and creativity). But at no point are you as a viewer fully transported into the world of these characters, rarely does it feel like they’re real people and not capable actors reading out eloquent (and long) lines of dialogue.