Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Director: George C. Wolfe
Year Released: 2020
Rating: 2.0

Several studio musicians - including Levee (Chadwick Boseman), Toledo (Glynn Turman) and Slow Drag (Michael Potts) - practice (and bicker) while waiting for the "Mother of the Blues" Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) to show up so they can start recording ... and when she gets there, she's determined to be as difficult as possible.  As if the arguing doesn't get tiresome enough (Levee's self-confidence borders on psychosis) and Rainey herself isn't the most repellent woman (it's like the universe melded Mariah Carey, Whitney Huston and Diana Ross into one corpulent tyrant), then there's Wolfe's direction, which lacks even a soupçon of subtlety or restraint: this isn't the theatre, buddy, and I can count the beads of sweat.  It does, however, make a great point about Caucasian musicians and producers appropriating/stealing from African-American talent, which is loathsome and should have made a lot of people ashamed of themselves ... even though they weren't, and enjoyed the profits.