Perry’s shrewd move into the Hollywood mainstream via acting roles in newsworthy pictures ranging from “Gone Girl” to “Don’t Look Up” may have broadened the audience for his work from director. And with his recent deal with Netflix, that directorial work has entered new territory. His new photo, ‘A Jazzman’s Blues’, in which Perry does not appear, is from a script he says he wrote 27 years ago. During a recent appearance on ‘The Today Show’, Perry said, “I had to be strategic in what I did before, so I had to make sure I got hit after hit after hit, so this one, I just wanted to take my time and do it at the right time. Telling this story now, he says, became imperative as Perry witnessed the banning of contemporary books, the distortion of black history, “the ‘homogenization of slavery and Jim Crow’ being one aspect of what particularly troubles him.
From its first shots, “A Jazzman’s Blues” shows that Perry has developed a real ease as a filmmaker. The setting of the story is a setting, something straight out of John Grisham perhaps: In the not-too-distant past, a black woman watches a political speech on television by the current attorney general of Hopewell, Georgia. , disdaining his racist views. Nevertheless, this old woman soon shows up at the man’s office, carrying a sheaf of letters and making a request. “You want me to investigate a murder that happened over 40 years ago,” the bureaucrat says in disbelief. (The woman happens to know everything but hears the question as a lesson.) We return to 1937, and a black rural community, and a lot of misfortune.
The sensitive and shy young man nicknamed Bayou (Joshua Boone) comes from a family of traveling musicians. Including a father who breathes “The boy has to learn to be tough at some point.” The fact that Boone can sing but cannot act makes him an object of contempt for this father and for 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 the lavender and the moonlight,” Boone claims in one of his letters. For a short time, the two share a secret love. She teaches him to read. But she is kidnapped by her miserly mother who takes her to the North and marries the girl, who can pass for a White, to a wealthy Caucasian. 1947 brings an unfortunate reunion of Bayou and LeAnne. “What’s wrong with them niggers down here?” asks a member of LeAnne’s New People when Bayou is forward enough to sit in a white family’s kitchen. “Oh, we’re keeping them in line,” a local law enforcement representative replies.