Sunday, October 31, 2004

Movie Review: Ray

I've decided to do periodic reviews - of books, music, movies, whatever. So here's my first: A review of the movie Ray.

"Ray" is a movie detailing the life and times, until the mid-sixties at least, of Ray Charles. Jamie Foxx stars as the titular character, and does so absolutely marvelously. The movie is worth seeing just for the performance. And though it's early, I'm still comfortable saying that this performance will make him one of the favorites to win the Oscar for Best Actor. A terrific job by Mr. Foxx.

The rest of the cast does an excellent job as well. My personal favorites were the studio executives. Curtis Armstrong, best known for his role as Booger in the Nerds movies, is dynamic as the talent scout Ahmet. The back up singers do a terrific job, and the music throughout the movie, as to be expected, was wonderful. The songs are all taken from recordings or were done by Mr. Ray Charles himself, who apparently was quite involved in the film while it was in production.

For all the terrific performances, however, I was left bothered by a too-quick resolution. At 2 and a half hours the movie was long enough, but the conclusion was not. The movie ends with Ray kicking his heroine habit, but we never get to see him repair any of the relationships we saw his addiction ruin, and the feeling is a severe lack of closure. My guess is that the cutting room floor saw quite a lot, as 30 years of his life are passed over with a single, quick, collage of clippings and album covers.

The film chooses its focus and sticks to it, with excellent story-telling, pace, and acting. The weakness of the film is that it simply cannot tell enough of Mr. Charles' story. What it does tell, however, it does well. It is a shame that Mr. Charles is not around to see it. Though then again, he lived it.

I give it an A-.


Madley said...

Hi there,

I like your movie reviews -- a refreshing take as opposed to the we jaded folks in LA. At The Grove (fancy schmancy theater in the middle of it all) this weekend this fellow behind me mentioned to his buddy that they should see "Ray" -- to which the buddy replied, "Oh, it's another biopic. It would just annoy me."

I had to turn around and laugh. He just smiled and said, "Well, it would." Man, oh man... what about the LIFE of Ray Charles?! Jaded, I say.

BTW, if Ray Charles were alive, he still wouldn't SEE this movie... hehehe

Madley said...

Okay, now I can't stop talking...

I saw a clip on AOL where Bill Cosby tells a story about walking into a room and Ray Charles was playing piano in the dark.

"And before I could stop it," Bill continues in only-Bill-Cosby-could-say-it-way: "it... came... flying... out... of... my... mouth... and... I... couldn't... stop... it...:"

"What are you doing playing in the dark?"

"Does that make you feel uncomfortable?" asks Ray.

"Yeah, it does."

"Then turn the light on," he says.

So I turned on the light.

"Feel better?"

MWAHAHAAHA! Sorry, had to share that -- every time I think of Ray Charles I think of that story. But now of course I'll have to "see" it too.