In his final movie performance, Chadwick Boseman plays a desperate man. Levee, a horn player in blues queen Ma Rainey’s band, is young, volatile, explosive and constantly striving to get more out of life than what’s been dealt to him. Over the course of an afternoon, as he and the band congregate in a music studio to work on Ma’s latest record, Levee’s outward bravado and inner pain eventually result in a tragic but not altogether surprising climax.
Based on the August Wilson play and directed by veteran theater and film director George C. Wolfe, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is not a definitively cinematic movie. That is, it’s very much a movie based on a play, and what it lacks in sweeping visual storytelling and movement it makes up for entirely with character. This is a movie about monologues. This is a movie about performance. And while in some ways this creates a kind of weakness in the film, it’s incredibly fitting as Boseman’s final on-screen role, because all you can think about anyway is the weight and meaning and finality of his performance.
Every glance, every grimace, every boisterous laugh, every tear, every wisecrack that Levee makes takes on a new significance. Certain lines feel eerie and momentous simply because he is saying them, like when Levee, arguing with the other boys in the band, declares: “Death, death got some style. Death will kick your ass and make you wish you never been born. That’s how bad death is. But you can rule over life. Life ain’t nothing.”
This is not a distraction. If anything, Boseman’s performance, playing off of Viola Davis, invigorates the film with an energy and an urgency that keeps us engaged. As an actor, that was perhaps one of Boseman’s greatest talents: Whether playing the lead role in films like “Black Panther” and “Get on Up” or as part of ensemble, as in one of his other final roles in “Da 5 Bloods,” he was always a grounding force, a star who shined while letting others shine, as well.
Case in point: the opening scene of the film, where Ma Rainey and Levee jockey for dominance on stage at a music hall, with her powerful voice, him with his booming horn. Levee wants what Ma has: her fame, her money, her success, even her sultry girlfriend. And, more than anything, the respect that she demands and seems to get from the white folks who’ve commissioned her latest record. Onstage, as he brazenly takes a horn solo, the spotlight hovers on Levee for one brief, shining moment, but then rests firmly back on Ma as she bellows, “Hey daddy! Please come home to me!” Levee retreats into the darkness of the background. We’re dazzled and captivated by Ma Rainey. But we still look for him. The scene sets a tone — this is still very much Davis’ film, but Boseman provides all the tension, all the stakes.
There seems to be this hope that talented actors end their careers with films that tie up their on-screen legacy neatly, and if they don’t, this is somehow a bad thing. But “Ma Rainey” isn’t a neat ending, and that makes it far more interesting. As years progress, Boseman’s performance as Black Panther will most likely be the role with which he is most strongly associated and celebrated. The “Black Panther” movie, after all, was and is a huge cultural phenomenon, symbolic of so much more than just a fictional Black superhero.
But it’s Levee, perhaps, which will be the performance that encapsulates or rather immortalizes so much of the legend that was lost. It’s impossible to know, definitively, what was going through Boseman’s mind as he played this character. Unless one actually experiences it, I imagine it’s impossible to fully grasp what it truly means to be an artist, fighting to keep creating until you no longer can. But there’s a sense, as he blazes across each frame, that the performance is heavily imbued with the weight of what it is: a farewell, a conclusion to a brief yet inspiring body of work.
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Kanye West Makes Runway Debut As Model In Mud-Filled Fashion Show
The rapper and fashion icon, who legally changed his name to Ye last year, made his catwalk debut during Paris Fashion Week on Sunday with a runway strut that’s already grabbed the internet’s attention.
West opened Balenciaga’s apocalyptic-themed Summer 2023 show, which featured a mud-soaked runway surrounded by piles of sludge, surprising everyone in the audience, including daughter North West who sat front row at the event alongside aunts Khloe Kardashian and Kylie Jenner.
Ditching his much-discussed bedazzled flip-flops, the Yeezy designer was dressed in a black, oversized, military-inspired jacket adorned with a “security” patch and leather pants. He wore a hoodie over a cap, which obscured part of his face ― West’s preferred method of appearing in public as of late.
The musician arrived at the show with his younger children Saint West, 6; Chicago West, 4; and Psalm West, 3, according to Entertainment Tonight, while their mother Kim Kardashian was reportedly not in attendance.
The unexpected appearance from the Grammy winner on the runway naturally spurred much conversation online.
The hip-hop legend has a long history with the Spanish fashion house, which he collaborated with for a capsule collection under his now-defunct partnership with Gap. Kardashian has also made major inroads with the luxury brand, which recently featured her in a buzzy new campaign.
Earlier in the week, West appeared at the Givenchy show in the French capital sporting a Balenciaga mouthguard.
As for why models were tasked with trudging through high-fashion muck, creative director Demna Gvasalia said the set stood as a “metaphor for digging for truth and being down to earth.”
“I hate boxes and I hate labels. … Individualism in fashion is downgraded to pseudotrends dictated by a post in stories of some celebrity of the moment,” he wrote in the show’s notes. “I’ve decided to no longer explain my collections and verbalize my designs, but to express a state of mind.”
It’s unclear why Kardashian wasn’t at the event, as she’s made a habit of still supporting West publicly since their split, while the former couple continue to hammer out the details of their somewhat-contentious divorce.
West was absent at the show she curated for Dolce & Gabbana titled “Ciao Kim” during Milan Fashion Week days ago, which was a full-fledged KarJenner family affair.
The back-to-back fashion extravaganzas arrive on the heels of West’s public apology to Kardashian for “any stress that I have caused” after previously attacking the reality star and her family on social media.
“This is the mother of my children and I apologize for any stress that I have caused, even in my frustration because God calls me to be stronger,” he said during a “Good Morning America” appearance. “But also, ain’t nobody else going to be causing no stress either. I need this person to be least stressed and the best sound mind and as calm as possible to be able to raise those children.”
Watch the full Balenciaga Summer 23 Collection below.
‘SNL’ Mocks Adam Levine’s Cheating Scandal In NSFW Sketch
Day concocted a not-safe-for-work portrayal of Levine during a game show-themed sketch titled “Send Something Normal,” a competition that the announcer deemed “America’s easiest game show.”
The game show’s host asked Levine in the sketch to respond to a woman who sent a DM that read: “Hey Adam! Huge fan. Love your music!”
Day, in his impression of Levine, quizzed the host to reveal the woman’s “most liked vacation photo” before giving his X-rated answer to her.
“Going to kick things off with a ‘Holy moly’… ‘Holy moly’… ‘Holy crap’… ‘Your body is makin’ my penis smile!’” Day answered.
You can watch the full sketch below.
Snoop Dogg Once Sold $10,000 Blunt To Raise Money For Charity, Seth Rogen Reveals
Snoop Dogg once used his iconic love for blunts for a good cause.
The hip-hop hit-maker, a known advocate for weed, is said to have auctioned off a marijuana-filled cigarette for $10,000 to raise money for Hilarity for Charity — a nonprofit founded by actors Seth and Lauren Miller Rogen.
In an interview with Variety ahead of the initiative’s 10th anniversary, the couple revealed how the 50-year-old racked up a five-figure contribution for Alzheimer’s awareness in the most West Coast way.
“Snoop Dogg once auctioned off a blunt on stage for Alzheimer’s,” Seth Rogen said. His wife, meanwhile, noted the steep price for the coveted item: “I think it went for $10,000.”
The “This Is The End” star added: “I think that encapsulates how we are approaching the space differently. If you’re lucky enough to be able to get Snoop Dogg to come perform at your show and auction off a blunt for Alzheimer’s care and research, then I think that speaks very well to an unexpected but effective kind of melding of matters and sensibilities.”
The pair created Hilarity for Charity in 2012 in honor of Miller Rogen’s late mother, Adele, who battled Alzheimer’s in her final days.
Two years ago, Rogen told People how affected he was by his wife’s ability to handle her parent’s diagnosis.
“Seeing Lauren talk about it is very impressive to me,” he said at the time.
“How much she talks about it, and how willing she is to talk about it. How open she is about talking about it and seeing how that has given her a lot of control over her situation – that’s been very good, because it wasn’t like that at first.”
Hilarity for Charity’s “10th birthday extravaganza” kicks off Saturday at Rolling Greens on Mateo Street in Los Angeles.
Miles Teller Rips ‘SNL’ Cast With Spot-On Peyton Manning Impression
Teller hosted “SNL” for its premiere on Saturday as he – along with cast member Andrew Dismukes – played as the Manning brothers to mock the show and its new set of comedians following a summer of departures.
Teller and Dismukes did a rendition of the brothers’ “Manningcast” broadcast to critique a sketch on former President Donald Trump’s stay at his Mar-a-Lago estate during a hurricane.
Teller, in the midst of his commentary on the sketch, predicted a mediocre, error-laden performance from “rookie” cast member Michael Longfellow.
“The new guy’s fully panicking, he’s just staring in the camera,” Teller said.
“Oh God and you know what, that might be the only time we see him tonight,” Dismukes added.
Teller later looped in three-time “SNL” host and fellow “Top Gun” actor Jon Hamm to weigh in on the show’s cast.
The Trump sketch included an appearance by five-time Olympian Shaun White, who played the special master assigned to review documents the FBI seized in a search of Trump’s estate.
“I’ve decided, they’re all awesome,” White said as he held up a briefcase.
“Yeah, well, you know sometimes they need to bring in a real celebrity when the host isn’t that famous,” Hamm said of White’s appearance in the sketch.
You can watch the 48th season premiere’s cold open, and Teller fire back at Hamm, below.
Lil Nas X Pauses Concert Due To Pooping: ‘This Is Not A Part Of The Show’
Lil Nas X was very truthful with fans in Atlanta this week when he had to briefly pause his show.
“I’m backstage and this is, like, not a part of the show, but I’m taking a mean shit,” he can be heard saying in a video tweeted by fan account Lil Nas X News on Thursday. “So please forgive me, but I’m going to need, like, a minute or two.”
“Lmao people really thought i was joking, i was literally back there dropping demons into that toilet,” he wrote.
At least some fans appreciated his openness about the relatable moment.
Miley Cyrus Shares Moving Voicemail From Late Taylor Hawkins, Fulfills His Song Request
In a tweet Wednesday, Cyrus posted an audio snippet of a voicemail she’d received from Hawkins prior to his death this spring. In it, he suggests she cover Def Leppard’s 1983 hit, “Photograph.”
“What up, Miley? It’s Taylor. Heard you’re moving,” Hawkins said in the clip. “I’m listening to ‘Photograph’ by Def Leppard. You could kill that one.”
Cyrus fulfilled that request Tuesday night, joining Def Leppard onstage at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles to perform “Photograph.”
That performance was one of many highlights at an all-star tribute concert celebrating Hawkins’ life, featuring appearances by Dave Chappelle, Alanis Morissette and Pink, among others.
Catch a snippet of “Photograph” below.
In a follow-up tweet, Cyrus noted she “missed Taylor so much like everybody else.”
“It was such an honor to celebrate him last night and perform [with] Def Leppard,” she added. “So lucky to have known him not just as a superstar but to have spent time watching him just be a dad and a husband!”
Hawkins died on March 25 at age 50. At the time of his death, he was in Bogota, Colombia, ahead of a scheduled performance with the Foo Fighters.
Cyrus previously honored Hawkins at Lollapalooza Brasil in March. Taking the stage just days after the drummer’s death, she dedicated the song “Angels Like You,” from her 2020 album, “Plastic Hearts,” to his memory.
“I would’ve done anything to hang out with him one more time,” she said at the time, wiping away tears. “So I couldn’t imagine how the Foo Fighters feel today.”
‘Daily Show’ Has Hilariously Brutal Reaction To CIA’s Langley Invite
The CIA is a lot of things, but perhaps it should leave being an online jokester to the pros.
“The Daily Show” gave Twitter users a fresh reminder of that on Friday in a sharp exchange with the Company.
It started when the comedy show posted a segment Thursday spoofing the CIA’s announcement this week that it was launching a podcast.
In the sketch, correspondent Michael Kosta plays the podcast’s host, who shouts out the “Lang Gang,” plugs a forthcoming coup, and takes calls from people who don’t know their phones are being tapped.
CIA officials were either spying on the show or simply watching it on TV like regular members of society. But either way, they noticed.
“We see you,” the agency, which has trained death squads, overthrown governments and spied on Americans, tweeted Friday using the “eyes” emoji. The attempted joke came with an invite to visit the CIA’s Langley, Virginia, headquarters “to give you an opportunity to learn a few things about what we do here.”
But “The Daily Show,” or whoever operates its Twitter account, immediately suspected something, given that the invite came a day after host Trevor Noah, who is from South Africa, announced he was leaving the show:
“Wow, our African leader steps down and immediately the CIA swoops in. Unreal.”
So far, “The Daily Show” hasn’t formally accepted the invite, but it’s possible that information is strictly classified.
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