A Jazzman’s Blues (2022) movie review

Perry’s canny moves into mainstream Hollywood through acting roles in newsworthy films ranging from “Gone Girl” to “Don’t Look Up” may have broadened the audience for his work as a director. And with his recent deal with Netflix, that directing job has entered new territory. His new movie, “A Jazzman’s Blues,” in which Perry does not appear, is from a script he says he wrote 27 years ago. In a recent appearance on “The Today Show,” Perry said, “I had to be strategic in what I was doing before, so I had to make sure I had hit after hit, so this one just wanted to take my time and do it in the right moment”. Telling this story now, he says, became imperative as Perry witnessed the contemporary ban on books, the distortion of black history, “the homogenization of slavery and Jim Crow” being one aspect of what he is particularly concerned about.

From his first takes, “A Jazzman’s Blues” shows that Perry has developed a genuine fluidity as a filmmaker. The setting of the story is a frame, something out of John Grisham perhaps: at some point in the not-too-distant past, a black woman watches a political speech on television by the current Attorney General of Hopewell, Georgia, dismissing her points of view. racist view. However, this old lady soon shows up at the man’s office, carrying a bundle of letters and making a request. “You want me to investigate a murder that happened more than 40 years ago,” the bureaucrat says in disbelief. (As it happens, the woman knows everything, but she intends the consultation to be a lesson.) We go back to 1937, to a rural black community and a lot of unhappiness.

The sensitive and hesitant young man nicknamed Bayou (Joshua Boone) comes from a family of itinerant musicians. Including a father who snorts: “The boy has to learn to get hard at some point.” The fact that Boone can sing but not play makes him an object of contempt for that father and Boone’s brother, Willie Earl (Austin Scott); with the latter there’s a real Cain and Abel vibe. Good fortune smiles on Boone in the form of LeAnne (Solea Pfeiffer), an outcast of a different kind. “I can still smell lavender and moonshine,” Boone states in one of his letters. For a short time the two share a secret love. She teaches him to read. But she is snatched away by her greedy mother who takes her north and marries the girl, who she can pass for white, to a well-to-do Caucasian. 1947 brings an ill-fated reunion for Bayou and LeAnne. “What’s wrong with these blacks down here?” a member of LeAnne’s new people asks when Bayou is bold enough to take a seat in a white family’s kitchen. “Oh, we keep them in line,” replies a local police representative.

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