Movie Notes: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

I watched this movie for my book club because we have been reading August Wilson, and this movie is based on one of his plays.

It’s a very good movie of the kind I really like. One sparsely decorated room, no special effects, and people just act. Of course, American actors don’t know how to act. They know how to stand around with frozen, botoxed-out, perfect android faces while stuff explodes around them to keep viewers from falling asleep. This is why movies that are based on acting almost never come out.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is an exception. Actors really act, and there’s real emotion, and a real story. A very, very fine movie. I highly recommend.

4 thoughts on “Movie Notes: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

  1. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

    I dunno if I can watch this…. Ma Rainey was my favorite singer when I was in high school (I marched to the beat of my own drummer, yes and actually finding her records was not. easy. at. all. at that time, not easy at all).
    But I’m afraid anachronistic music and/or modern interpretations/takes etc would drive me crazy and ruin it for me.
    And Viola Davis is an amazing actor… but is she a singer? I don’t like musicals where an actor lip-syncs to someone else and Ma Rainey’s recordings were unfortunately with the company with the worst technology at the time….
    Still, Ma Rainey was an amazing artist…. I love the syncopated… swing she gets in this (a couple of decades ahead of its time). And the lyrics are great too…


    1. Oh, it’s a real person?? I had no idea.

      The singing was hinting at something potentially great but it wasn’t great. So definitely don’t watch it for the music. There’s very little music actually.


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