Rated: R
Release Date: 12/18/2020
Production Company: Netflix

Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, Jeremy Shamos, Michael Potts, Johanne Elmina Moise and Jonny Coyne.

Director: George C. Wolfe. Producers: Denzel Washington, Todd Black and Dany Wolf. Executive Producers: Denzel Washington, Todd Black and Dany Wolf. Screenwriters: Ruben Santiago-Hudson and August Wilson (Playwright). Cinematographer: Tobias A. Schliessler.
By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

If Chadwick Boseman is nominated or wins an award posthumously this season, it won't be a sympathy vote, but rather for his fierce portrayal of Levee--which ignites the screen--in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

Directed by George C. Wolfe (TV's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks") and produced by Denzel Washington and Todd Black ("Fences"), "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" is an adaptation of August Wilson’s 1982 Tony Award-winning stage play. It debuts Dec. 18 on Netflix and is a remarkable showcase for Boseman. He stars as a band member for the legendary blues singer Ma Rainey who is played to perfection by Academy Award winner Viola Davis ("Widows" and TV's "How to Get Away with Murder").

While Davis and Boseman are a dynamic duo, the film's supporting cast of Glynn Turman (TV's "Fargo"), Colman Domingo (TV's "Euphoria" and "Fear the Walking Dead"), Michael Potts (TV's "God Friended Me"), Taylour Paige ("White Boy Rick") and Dusan Brown ("42" and TV's "Blaze and the Monster Machines"), shouldn't go unnoticed either.

Prior to the release of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," attended a virtual interview session with George C. Wolfe and some of the cast. REEL MOVIE NEWS

"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" is set in Chicago (1927) and centers around a recording session with the flamboyant and sassy Ma Rainey. As soon as she walks in the studio her bandmates, trombonist Cutler (Domingo), Toledo the pianist (Turman) and bassist, Slow Drag (Potts) are ready to do whatever Ma says. Levee, (Boseman) is a different story.

The slick, motor-mouth trumpeter with the cool kicks and who keeps eyeing Ma's partner, Dussie Mae (Paige) wants to add some of his musical touches to one of Ma's songs. She's not down with that. Levee believes, he's a lot more talented than the rest of the guys and has more ambition. He doesn't want to just play music, but also write it and own it even if it means perhaps leaving Ma's group and branching out on his own.

There is always one.

Not only does Ma have to contend with Levee, but the cheapskate studio owner Sturdyvant (Jonny Coyne, TV's "The Blacklist") and her annoying and lame manager Irvin (Jeremy Shamos, TV's "The Undoing") who also want control of her and her music. When Ma insists on having her stuttering nephew Sylvester (Brown) do part of a recording, it drives everyone crazy and is almost a disaster.

But because Ma Rainey is Ma Rainey, and is making money for the record company, she most always gets what she wants.
The majority of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" takes place in the basement recording studio and focuses on the men's jovial and sometimes heated exchanges about their life experiences including a blistering rant from Levee about his father growing up in the South. It helps us understand Levee's pain and suffering and his overall behavior.

There is such expressiveness and vibrancy from the cast of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" that you wish the movie never ends. Davis' portrayal of Ma Rainey--especially her lip-syncing--is truly remarkable.

It's also bittersweet to see Boseman who died this past August. His star turns in "Black Panther, "Get on Up," "42," and now "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," shows this incredibly talented young man was just getting started.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.

Check Out This Trailer For "MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics' Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.


Year Released: 2020
Running Time: 94
Production Company: Paramount
Director: Arthur A. Seidelman
Director of Photography: Hanania Baer
Screenwriter: Mark McClafferty, Clint Smith, Mark E. Corry, Lin Marlin and Sam Egan
Author: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: There are a handful of Christmas movies that I absolutely must watch the week before Christmas.

They include: "The Preacher's Wife," with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. It's a remake of the 1947 film, "The Bishop's Wife" starring Cary Grant and Loretta Young.

Then there's of course, "It's a Wonderful Life," followed by "Frosty the Snowman," Rudolph...
Prior to his TV and film career, Michael Warren was a standout basketball player for which of the following colleges?
San Francisco State University--Gators
University California, Los Angeles--Bruins
Cal State University San Bernardino--Coyotes
University of San Francisco--Dons