David Fox and Cameron Kelsall
The first thing I noticed about Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is how it’s been slimmed down and punched up—clocking in at just 95 minutes, it hits all the marks of August Wilson’s original while smartly settling into a snappier, more focused filmic style.
While I would say that the great James M. Cain remains underappreciated as a novelist in literary circles, he’s generally done very well by Hollywood. The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce, and Double Indemnity have had multiple film adaptations, and at least one of each is a classic.
Beatrice Page is a wonderful fit for Ginger Rogers, who plays it with brassy charm and a laudable sense of humor, since the character seems not to notice that she has aged out of her 20s by a couple of decades.
Fueled by a fierce intelligence, deep earnestness, exceptional eloquence, and social media savvy, Joyce DiDonato is a presence and a power, as much when speaking and thinking as when singing. Who better to imagine a program that would suit this (we hope) unique moment?
The candor of some aspects of Now, Voyager—which at times can feel fairly formulaic—has moments that are truly startling, and there is something surprisingly modern and frank in the not-entirely-fulfilling concluding moments.