| November 13, 2004

Los Angeles International Airport… A few years ago… My wife and I were waiting for the boarding call for our flight to… I don’t even remember where. Looking around, I noticed an older black gentleman sitting a row away. Hey, that looks like… It WAS! Ray Charles! I had to go over.
“Mr. Charles… I just wanted to thank you for your music. I love your voice and your style touches me,” I fumbled out. He could not have been more gracious. Shook my hand and thanked me for listening to his music.
Fast forward to a few months ago. Sitting in the darkened theater. A new warning (trailer) hits the screen and it’s… Ray! Wow. And that’s Jaime Foxx playing Charles. Write that one down, I want to review it.
Earlier this week… We sat down for a screening of Ray, eagerly anticipating a story that is a true success story, though marked by tragedy. Through flashbacks we are taken through his early childhood to the day the State of Georgia proclaimed Georgia to be the official state song. Foxx (Any Given Sunday, Ali, Bait) is appearing in his second Oscar worthy role this year, also starring in Collateral (with Tom Cruise). In fact, as good as I thought he was in Collateral, he was many times better in this movie where his performance of well known image of American Icon Ray Charles is constantly being compared to the all to real image we still have in our heads. Foxx, for the second time in less than a year shows us what strides his acting skills have made since the crap like Booty Call of a few years ago. This film is all about Ray, and he is amazing in playing the part. It isn’t often I get to say this of any film but the acting skills of the leading actor, Foxx, outshine the movie as a whole. It would not have been the same without his brilliant performance.
Foxx was, in fact coached by Charles in his vocals and piano playing. Charles also lived long enough to witness the final version of the movie. It could not have been all that comfortable for Mr. Charles at times because the film goes deeply into a relationship he has with his wife Della Bea Robinson (played by Kerry Washington from Save the Last Dance, Human Stain, and She Hate Me) AND long time girlfriend Margie Hendricks (played by Regina King of Daddy Day Care, Enemy of the State, and Down to Earth).
The music is superb and there is lots of it. Beginning with such a great product, it is very moving to hear many of Charles’ songs and see the roots of their development. It is the inclusion of this music which adds to the length (150 minutes) of the movie and also makes it not seem to be that long in viewing time. The movie goes deeply into his addiction to heroin and womanizing and blindness and their effects on his life.
With the year being so late, it is easy to see that Ray will be up for several Oscars. Probably Foxx, definitely music, and possibly picture, but with a disjointed ending I am not sure it will make the final cut of top 5 for the year. But it truly is worth the money to see this film up on the screen instead of awaiting the rental version.

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