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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Ray

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Judy Thorburn

Ray

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

JAMIE FOXX’S PERFORMANCE AS “RAY” SHINES

If there is one actor to make a major leap to superstardom in 2004 it has got to be Jamie Foxx.  This is definitely his year. Foxx has steadily been on the rise as more than just a comedy actor since his serious supporting role besides star Will Smith in 2001’s “Ali” biopic.  Earlier this year he shared top billing with Tom Cruise in Collateral, a role that garnered Foxx rave reviews, proving to audiences and critics alike he could hold his own against the most famous male movie star in the world.

This guy can act and he may very well walk away with an Academy Award for his electrifying performance as legendary R & B singer/musician, Ray Charles in “Ray”, a biopic that doesn’t fall short of showing the good, the bad and the very ugly side of the performer’s life. Foxx’s physical resemblance to Ray is uncanny. Not only does he look just like Ray here, he transformed himself into the musical genius by getting his speech pattern, mannerisms and gestures down pat. Plus, the actor himself, a gifted and accomplished pianist, made good use of his talent on the ivories when it came to playing the piano in all scenes by himself.  Only the vocals, although well lip-synched by Foxx, are from Ray’s original recordings.

“Ray” tells of the musician’s rise to fame and the circumstances that led to the inner demons and outer turmoil surrounding his life.  In order to get a better understanding at what made Ray tick, the use of flashbacks come into view on occasion as the film enfolds. The screenplay by James L. White (Ray gave a thumbs up on the production and followed the making), tracks his years when he first began making a name for himself in the Seattle nightclub scene, through his contact with record label Atlantic Records and his relationship with the company’s founder, Ahmet Artegan (Curtis Armstrong).  It also delves into his many struggles - with the people who tried to take advantage of his blindness by cheating him at pay, the racism he encountered, and his addiction to both women and heroin while becoming a music icon. But, it also depicts Ray as a self-serving businessman, with no loyalties to his mentor, Atlantic, who let the “itch” characteristics of a junkie slide, because he was a genius. When ABC Paramount agreed to a better deal whereby Ray could own his own masters, he left Ertegan and the record company that made him a star.

Ray, born Ray Charles Robinson, was a complicated man who lost his sight at age 7, two years after witnessing the drowning death of his younger brother George, an experience that haunted him most of his life and is depicted as in troubling, recurring hallucinations of water. Was self-guilt the reason he became a junkie?  After all, he was just a child when his brother died.  Was he angry at what life dealt him? Certainly his strong willed laundress mother (impressive newcomer, Sharon Warren) didn’t coddle him when he lost his sight. Rather she was strict, showing him tough love, refusing to let him become a cripple, demanding that he be strong and stand on his own two feet. However, based on these visions that stayed with Ray, this film tries to convey a troubled soul who lived by his own set of rules in order to survive. That meant choosing to have illicit affairs with countless woman outside of his marriage to gospel singer Della Bea (marvelous Kerry Washington, The Human Stain), who was the only woman, besides his mother, that he claimed to love. Della is portrayed as mother of his two children who stayed with Ray through thick and thin, knowing well of his numerous affairs, most notably with back up singer, Margie Hendricks (Regina King) who gave birth to one of the many children he had out of wedlock. In reality, he has twelve illegitimate kids.

There is no doubt that Ray Charles was one of a kind, as far as his place in music history. He was an innovator who combined R & B with gospel, at first thought of as blasphemous among religious southerners, and blended all music styles from jazz to country, to pop, seamlessly.  That said, the film’s highlights are Ray’s music, the likes of which some of the best hits including Mess Around, Unchain My Heart; Hit the Road Jack, What Id Say, I Can’t Stop Loving You, and my personal favorite, Georgia, are voiced by the master himself.

Jamie Foxx delivers the goods. He and Ray’s music are the best reason to see the film.

As a person, Ray was a cad, a junkie for 20 years, a womanizer, and a man who gave his heart only to his music.  As a biography Ray glows as a tribute to his music, but unfortunately, not the man.

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