*** Official RAY Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Chris, Oct 29, 2004.

  1. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

    Jul 4, 1997
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    I've been a big Ray Charles fan for years, love his music, think he's one of the most talented artists of our time. I really looked forward to this film and walked in with very high expectations.

    Jamie Foxx, as Ray, put on a heck of a show, managing to effectively fill the shoes of Charles, seemingly taking over his character. But this wans't a matter of impersonation, rather he managed to capture a lot of the subtext of Charles very well and build it within the story.

    Now, when we get to the story.. here, I did have some problems. Having read the Charles autobiography and other books, Ray was made out too angelic in a sense, and some of the relationships seemed wrong.

    The removal of his entire life in state care, where he learned his music, made for an awkward timeline jump and could have offered more insight.

    But my biggest problem came with the portrayal of David Newman (Fathead) as just a fellow junkie, offering little but hanger-on status. This contradicts everything that Ray Charles himself ever said, books written about the subject, and the person in question. Ray Charles had defined Newman as the key to his work in Jazz, and one of his best friends. In the movie, both are missing.. in fact, we never see Ray perform or involved with any Jazz music, despite the fact it made up a large part of his career (maybe doesn't "swing" as much with the kids)

    Other characters, including Atlantic Records chairpersons, etc. are very rigid and offer not a lot of depth of character, they are only cardboard cutouts for Ray to play off of.

    But when the movie swings, it swings.. it is one of the most enthralling films I've seen in a long time in it's presentation of music and the spirit of the performance.. in those moments, it's as fine a film as I could ask for.

    However, it's the little quirks in the middle, the portrayal of characters and making Ray a lot less complicated and more sympathetic that bothers me. This is a movie that obviously had the right man cast as Ray - he should be nominated - that took outstanding potential source material and went too far to make it sacharine and fulfill the perceived "right" story line for a hero. Example.. we see Ray beat Heroin as a heroic effort, but yet, no one mentions that he basically drank himself to Hepatitis-C (diagnosed in 2003) because he himself said he drank a bottle of gin a day.

    I'm not saying this to down Ray Charles. I own most of his recordings and love, love, love his talent. But Charles himself was a man of grand contradictions, kind of a running conflict with himself. And the movie went just a bit too far in trying to tie those things up with a neat bow.

    I'm going to have to break the rating up into two parts:

    Film as a whole:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] 1/2 : [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Jamie Foxx's performance:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I'm going to keep my original rating, but having watched it again with someone else, I have to admit, on a whole, this movie just works. And I think if you are willing to overlook the inaccuracies, which don't change the heart of the story, then it's far better then my initial blush view. This is one of the better films of the year, and the performance by Foxx is excellent. (so, you could add another star to my review on a second blush, but I'll stand by my nitpicker's early thoughts as well)
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Ray". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.

  3. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    I didn't have a lot of baggage (knowledge of Ray Charles' personal life) when I saw this film, so for me, what unfolded before my eyes was an engaging look at the early decades of Ray Charles. The film did its best to balance out his musical talent, his business acument, and his battle with a heroin addiction upon reflection of his life and times.

    I enjoyed how the inspiration of many of Ray's hits was depicted in a string of vignettes, though if life were only that simple: have a life crisis, and get a hit single from the experience, then more people would have hits on a continuous basis.

    Jamie Foxx WAS Ray Charles, he simply melted into the person that was Ray, and his performance went beyond impersonation, but rather went deeper into channeling Ray's spirit in this cinematic effort put his life's story on film.

    I knew I was getting invested in the film when I started to sit up in my seat, as Ray's career takes off, the darker side of his heroin addiction threatened to take it all away. There is no way a 150 minute film can cover the entire life of Ray Charles, but the glimpse into Ray's formative is enough for an entertaining and somber look into what personal demons drove this talented blind musician to conquer many musical genres, fusing different genres and creating new ones, and brought together people of all races with the power of his songs, even if it meant taking a stand in Georgia in the 1960s.

    I am happy to say my audience applauded when the end credits started rolling.

    I give this film 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+. Jamie Foxx gets an A for his performance.

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