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Flash Movie Review: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

IT FELT GOOD TO BE NEEDED and I felt the same about them. We had met at a mutual friend’s birthday party; by the time I had to leave, we agreed to meet for dinner later in the week. Over that first meal we discovered things we had in common, including their best friend was married to a cousin of mine. It was things like this that sparked our attraction for each other. Now here is a little secret; the entire time we were together, I felt as if I was dating out of my league. In the very beginning of our relationship I would question, or 2ndguess myself because I could not believe how well things were going. Listening to them talk about their circle of friends/business contacts used to make me feel uncomfortable because they sounded so sophisticated or important. It eventually passed because we were settling into a comfortable, loving place. Though, I never pushed to be introduced to their friends; I thought in good time they would get comfortable to bring me around them. I never questioned it because I was taking a slow pace in introducing them to my friends and family. Looking back now, I should have questioned it.      THERE WAS NO WARNING, NOT EVEN an indication, when they told me our relationship was no longer working for them. The only way I could describe how I was feeling was shellshocked. Seriously, I felt as if everything was going along wonderfully; we never even had a disagreement about anything. I tried to get more input about what was not working, but all I was getting was the same “not working” excuse. I must tell you breaking up is harder to deal with when you do not get an explanation or feedback you can process and possibly see things through the other person’s eyes. I mean, if there is something I did that caused this unfortunate turn of the relationship, I certainly would like to know about it; so, I could look and maybe grow from it. All I had to do it turned out was wait one week and I got my answer. The mutual friend we had called and told me that my ex was already dating someone else. Wow, that did not take long. I guess my feeling needed was correct; however, it was for the wrong reasons. They were using me until they found someone who better fit their needs and wants, I guess. I know some people who get into a relationship, know right from the start where they stand with the other person. I do not know if that would make me feel any better about the relationship; it seems like that could be the start of a love/hate relationship. In this musical drama, you can see what I am talking about.      BOTH THE RECORD PRODUCER AND MANAGER knew what type of record they wanted to make. What they did not know was the singer had her own ideas. With Viola Davis (Fences, Widows) as Ma Rainey, Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther, 21 Bridges) as Levee, Colman Domingo (Lincoln, Selma) as Cutler, Glynn Turman (Super 8, Sahara) as Toledo and Jeremy Shamos (The Big Sick, Magic in the Moonlight); this film festival winner hit the right chord with Viola and Chadwick playing off of each other. They both provided powerful performances that carried this story all the way to the end. I had a hard time, at first, getting into this story. There were some flat scenes that did nothing for me. I could see where they might have been more intense on the stage; however, they did not translate well to the big screen. On the other hand, there were some intense attention-grabbing scenes that made me want to watch more. I could see Chadwick and Viola getting nominations during this year’s awards season and if that was the reason the movie studio used them to make money off this film, I am sure the actors were quite aware of it.     

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: Fences

ONE’S former days of glory either chain the individual to the past or can springboard them forward through the future. I have experienced this with a particular style of aerobics I used to teach in my classes. Years after I was no longer doing the class, members would still come up to me to talk about the class, wishing it would come back on the schedule. This particular class took a lot of preparation to teach and provided a lot of fun for me and the members. I possibly could have gone a few more years teaching this particular class; however, I knew with the advancement I was achieving at my day job I would not be able to devote the proper amount of time to keep that class going at the level it needed. Now I have seen at some clubs where instructors find a niche and excel in it, but after a couple of years they devote less time to keep it fresh and fun. It is as if they use their success to coast through their other classes.   THIS is not unique to the fitness world; wasn’t it just recently I heard about a well known singer, who was successful early in her career, having a poor performance involving lip synching her own song? It is similar to some of those old musical acts that used to perform in huge stadiums during their heyday but presently perform at a small hotel nightclub or local festival. Now I am not saying they should not make a living; but if they are using nostalgia to draw a crowd because they cannot perform as well as before, I have a hard time justifying spending money to see them. Why would I want to hear a singer who can no longer carry the tune to their own song? Maybe it is just me but sitting and dwelling on one’s past successes in my opinion doesn’t allow the person to live in the present; I saw it taking place in this powerful drama.   TROY Maxson, played by Denzel Washington (Safe House, Man on Fire), knew he would have been a great baseball player if he had been given the chance. His frustrations not only had an effect on him but the people around him. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play written by August Wilson (The Piano Lesson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone), this film festival winner was directed by Denzel and filmed in a way to match the stage version which Denzel and Viola Davis (Suicide Squad, Doubt) as Rose Maxson performed on Broadway. With Jovan Adepo (The Leftovers-TV) as Cory Maxson and Stephen Henderson (Manchester by the Sea, Tower Heist) as Jim Bono; the acting was outstanding overall; but for me, Viola was beyond amazing. She will be nominated for an Oscar and could easily get it for this performance. The story set in Pittsburgh during the 1950s did a beautiful job of depicting the attitudes of the times and set the viewer up for a couple of surprises. Even at times where I thought the pacing of the story slowed, the acting was so intense that I barely acknowledged this minor negative for me. This is a film to see especially if you enjoy catching the movies that will be nominated this awards season.

 

3 ½ stars    

 

 

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