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A movie directed by Taylor Hackford

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Ray Charles was one-of-a-kind performer and Jamie Foxx is simply brilliant in his portrayal.

  • Jan 17, 2010
In the annals of American popular music there has never ever been anyone quite like Ray Charles.   Ray was a totally unique artist who from the very beginning of his storied career never allowed himself to be limited by genre.  He played what he wanted to play the record company be damned.  Although he was legally blind this was a man of great vision.  in 2004 the much anticipated biopic of the life and times of Ray Charles was released.  The film is simply called "Ray".   

In "Ray" we learn that Ray Charles went blind as a young child.  Ray became interested in music at a very young age and despite his handicap pursued his passion with a vengeance.  He studied classical piano at the Florida School for the Dead and the Blind but what he really wanted to play was jazz and the blues.  We learn that Ray began his musical career with a gig at a nightclub in Seattle in the mid-1940's where he would meet another talented young musician named Quincy Jones.  Ray knocked 'em dead in Seattle and in 1947 Swingtime Records from Hollywood, California came calling and offered him a recording contract.  Ray's Swingtime recordings were largely in the Nat King Cole style and although they were not especially big sellers they managed to capture to attention of Ahmet Ertegun at the fledgling Atlantic records in New York City.  Atlantic purchased Ray's contract from Swingtime in 1952 for $2,500 and the rest as they say is history.  Throughout the 1950's Ray Charles and Atlantic made some positively brilliant records that were both critically acclaimed and best sellers.  Ray Charles created quite a stir in the early fifties when he decided to combine elements of gospel with R&B.   It had simply never been done before.  As you will discover in "Ray" this was considered sacrilegious by some people and Atlantic was very reluctant to make these recordings.  But as was to be the case time and time again during his career Ray Charles prevailed.  Then in 1960 Ray Charles stirred the pot again by leaving the homey confines of  Atlantic and signing with ABC-Paramount.   Ray Charles demanded and received a better deal than even Frank Sinatra could command.  Once again Ray Charles confounded the experts by recording of all things a country and western album.  Let the record show that Ray certainly knew what he was doing because "Modern Sounds In Country and Western" topped the album charts for an astonishing 14 weeks in 1962 and yielded several Top Ten singles to boot.   

While "Ray" spends a great deal of time focusing on his musical career the film also deals at some length with Ray Charles' rather messy personal life.  His chronic heroine addiction and marital infidelities are sufficiently chronicled without ever soft-pedaling them.  Jamie Foxx is positive brilliant is his portrayal ot this American Master.  I was shocked to discover that Jamie Foxx allowed himself to be blinded for 12 to 14 hours a day during the making of "Ray".  That this was a very wise decision on Jamie's part is quite evident as Foxx is amazingly convincing in this role.  Furthermore, when director Taylor Hackford landed Jamie Foxx for this role he had no idea that Foxx was a classically trained pianist as well.  Thus, with a great deal of assistance from Ray Charles himself  Jamie Foxx was actually able to play the music himself affording the director a great deal more flexibility in making this film.  You really do feel like you are actually watching Ray Charles do his thing throughout the movie.  Amazing!

I actually saw "Ray" during its theatrical release back in 2004.  I enjoyed it even more the second time around at home this week.  I thought that the screenplay was exceptional and the acting superb all the way around.  There are a number of outstanding performances in "Ray" including those by Kerry Washington as Ray's wife Della Bea and Sharon Warren in the role of his mother.  Meanwhile I would be remiss if I failed to make mention of Curtis Armstrong's splendid portrayal of record mogul Ahmet Ertegen and Clinton Powell in the role of manager Jeff Powell.  If you have never seen "Ray" I would urge you to give it a look.  The story is compelling and as you might expect the music is sensational.   Very highly recommended! 
Ray Charles was one-of-a-kind performer and Jamie Foxx captures his personna magnificently Ray Charles was one-of-a-kind performer and Jamie Foxx captures his personna magnificently Ray Charles was one-of-a-kind performer and Jamie Foxx captures his personna magnificently Ray Charles was one-of-a-kind performer and Jamie Foxx captures his personna magnificently

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More Ray (2004 movie) reviews
review by . January 27, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Jamie Foxx, music, good direction and story line     Cons: none for me     The Bottom Line:   "I could cry, I could cry, I could cry   I live on a Lonely Avenue   A lonely avenue"  ~Ray Charles     I can only surmise that it is both frightening and a privilege for an actor to be asked to portray someone so well known that almost everyone in the world is familiar with them. It would also, no …
review by . December 07, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
I enjoyed this film immensely and was impressed by the entire production. I was also impressed with director Taylor Hackford's choice to balance Ray's personal tragedies and personal life with his music careers. Many musical biographies tend to focus more on the personal side, but 'Ray' lets us into business meetings, contract discussions, label changes and in this film makes Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler important characters in the film. I also liked how the film addressed the groundbreaking musical …
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Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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About this movie


Directed by Taylor Hackford, this biopic profiles the life of legendary musician Ray Charles. Despite humble beginnings and the loss of his eyesight due to glaucoma at the age of six, Charles, depicted by Jamie Foxx, would nonetheless become an icon in both the music industry and the civil rights era. While the film delves into his problems with drugs and women, the bulk of the story details his career; among the highlights of that career are 12 Grammy awards and 11 R&B chart-toppers, such as "Unchain My Heart," "Hit the Road, Jack," "Georgia," "Doin' the Mess Around," and "Hallelujah I Just Love Her So." Also among the cast are Larenz Tate as Quincy Jones, as well as Regina King, Kerry Washington, and Clifton Powell. Charles' son, Ray Charles Jr. helped produce the film. ~ Tracie Cooper, All Movie Guide

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