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A Jazzman’s Blues review – Netflix’s moving drama is Tyler Perry’s magnum opus | Drama movies


Jyler Perry didn’t become a billionaire media mogul by making art. He did this by mass-producing plays, movies, and TV series about despised black women and their dysfunctional families who ultimately find relief in Christian lessons on forgiveness, dignity, and self-worth. . And as fascinating as it has been to watch this New Orleans-born former temp worker who never finished high school write, produce, direct and star in much of that work – including as Granny Madea at the sour tongue and gun-toting work ethic didn’t exactly endear him to discerning consumers who expected more from a 53-year-old black man who is rightly singing the opening of one of the biggest studios industry on a former Confederate Army base that hosted everything from Marvel Epics to Bad Boys for Life to Coming to America 2.

Spike Lee would set the critical tone against Perry a decade ago, calling his work “coonery” and “buffoonery”. But when Perry, who had the final say by naming a sound stage after the director of She’s Gotta Have It, took a risk, audiences for movies like For Colored Girls weren’t as solid as the franchise’s. Madea. “I would love to make a movie as powerful as Schindler’s List,” he told an audience at a Goldman Sachs conference four years ago. “I wrote a screenplay in 1995 about a Holocaust survivor and a jazz singer. But I knew what I was building on, I had to focus…so I could build all these other things to hold on to.

Here is finally that feature, A Jazzman’s Blues, which couldn’t be more unrecognizable as a Tyler Perry production. Gone are the overriding religious themes, laughable wigs, and familiar rotation of corporate actors burning through dozens of a day’s pages in a single take. (Brad Benedict, a supporting cast member in the BET White House drama The Oval, was a notable exception.) Rather, it’s a story that takes its time building characters and conflicts over the course of more than two hours before unraveling. finish with a punch. . If there’s anything to lament, it’s Perry’s decision to drop the film on Netflix instead of challenging the current low box office haul. Jazzman isn’t just good for a Tyler Perry movie. That’s a good end point.

Set in rural Georgia in 1940, Jazzman begins as a teenage romance between the black sheep of the Bayou family (Joshua Boone) and Leanne (Solea Pfeiffer), who is sent back to live upstate after Bayou proposes marriage. Even though he goes on with his life (enlists in the service, dodges combat, and returns home after sustaining an injury), he still carries a flame for Leanne. And when she returns to the arm of a white scion of a political dynasty, it sends shivers down the spine of the black community that knew her at the time. Bayou knows she’s “playing a dangerous game,” but neither can resist the urge to reconnect. When Leanne’s evil mother, who sent her away to begin with, gets wind of the children’s rekindled romance, she tells a lie that forces Bayou to leave town with her older brother for Chicago.

This brother, Wille Earl (Austin Scott), had gone off to make his fortune as a trumpeter and had an audition (sort of) held in the hottest room in town by his mysterious manager Ira (Ryan Eggold), a survivor of the Holocaust with acute survivor guilt. But while Bayou, a shy singer with a big voice, emerges as the biggest talent, Wille Earl’s resentment deepens with his heroin addiction. Like Leanne, Bayou is eventually drawn home to care for his mother, whose thriving juke-joint business fell fallow after he escaped from town. The star-crossed lovers hatch another plan to leave town again, this time with a baby in their party.

Everything about this film is truly captivating. Performance is restricted. The pitches, many of which appear to be on the grounds of Perry Studios, are lush. The musical numbers are decadent, no doubt thanks to Perry being part of multi-Grammy jazz composer Terence Blanchard, a longtime Spike Lee collaborator. The narration is effective, the scenes well paced, the mastery of social and racial politics foolproof. Perry never appears on screen, in drag or otherwise. But his immense talent and resources shine. And his heart too.

So Perry took 30 years to build an empire. In the end, there is no doubt that it was the right decision. If he had tried to start his career with Jazzman, the world will probably never see the film, let alone in this amazing and pure form. Perry not only kept his promise – you could call it his magnum opus. But (and I can’t believe I’m writing this) his best might indeed be yet to come.

theguardian Gt

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