2020 Movie Reviews: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom / The Vast of Night / Wild Mountain Thyme

With Covid-19 and everything, it’s easy to forget new movies are still being released and while the current stress of the situation has driven me to plunge into the home-y comforts of classic movies I’ve seen a jillion times, I took some time this past weekend to catch three 2020 releases.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a flawlessly acted, beautifully written and mercifully short mainstream musical drama based on the play by August Wilson. The directing, however, is so awkwardly stage-y (like a lot of play adaptations – looking at you, Fences) it really takes you out of the world the words and the actors have built. Things never occur organically, and while there is certainly power in the meat of the monologues each of the characters give (my favorite is Glynn Turman‘s “stew” monologue), you’re off to a rocky start when a character steps towards the camera and essentially takes a deep breath. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom really lives in its performances though, with Viola Davis, Euphoria‘s Colman Domingo, The Wire and Fargo‘s Glynn Turman and Brother Mouzone himself, Michael Potts, turning in some reliably riveting stuff. The movie belongs to Chadwick Boseman though, who shows us new sides to him as a performer, Black Panther just couldn’t. His role is reminiscent of Heath Ledger‘s Joker, not only were both playing tortured geniuses, in their own right, but each performance hinted at so much greatness to follow. Sadly, in both cases, it never will. Grade: B (NETFLIX)

The Vast of Night

The Vast of Night is a very technically proficient production that values subtle thrills over fake rubber alien suits, but for whatever reason I was left completely cold. Perhaps it stems from the characters and performances, none of which are terribly interesting or well developed. There’s also this on-going, heavy homage to The Twilight Zone that seems like overkill. If The Vast of Night was more interested in being its own thing, I would have enjoyed it more, but as it stands it’s a supremely well crafted albeit forgettable cheap little alien flick. Grade: B- (AMAZON PRIME)

Wild Mountain Thyme

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Sometimes a movie is so unintentionally stupid you just have to sit there and marvel at it. Wild Mountain Thyme, based on John Patrick Shanley‘s critically maligned stage play, follows the awkward romance of two inexplicably hot Irish farmers played by believably hot movie stars Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt. They’re obviously both interested in fucking each other but don’t because the dude is super awkward and Christopher Walken is his dad. Enter city boy Jon Hamm and his big ham bone, who has sex plans for Emily Blunt. After one hour and forty-two minutes of no fucking whatsoever and the worst Irish accent you ever heard courtesy of Colonel Angus himself, the movie just stops, but not before revealing the dumbest, most mind-boggling plot twist of all time. Grade: F ($19.99 Rental on…hahahahahhaha….)

On the next 2020 Reviews

  1. Mads Mikkelsen is a high school teacher who willingly becomes an alcoholic in Thomas Vinterberg‘s Danish Wild Hogs adaptation, Another Round.
  2. Udo Kier is back to being creepy in one of the year’s most celebrated foreign language films, Brazil’s Bacurau
  3. I promise to give Wonder Woman 1984 a fair shake, even though I really disliked the first one.

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