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Ray


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201 of 213 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good film but an even greater lead performance
This is a very good movie that houses an exceptionally great performance by Jamie Fox as music legend Ray Charles. I must confess that as a genre, the biopic is not my favorite, especially of figures as well known as Ray Charles. We usually receive in such films distorted portraits of them, or undeserved adulation. RAY is one of the more balanced biopics I have seen...
Published on October 28, 2004 by Robert Moore

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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WARNING ! DON'T BUY EXTENDED VERSION
Does anyone suspect that Helen Keller edited this film?
Shame on the director for allowing the ruination of this great masterpiece in the extended form!

GREAT FILM RUINED- BY BY BAD EDITING.
Here is what others are saying: "The big disappointment for me was buying the Limited Edition version with the extended edition of the movie. 25 minutes of...
Published on February 7, 2005 by M. G. PHILLIPS


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201 of 213 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good film but an even greater lead performance, October 28, 2004
This is a very good movie that houses an exceptionally great performance by Jamie Fox as music legend Ray Charles. I must confess that as a genre, the biopic is not my favorite, especially of figures as well known as Ray Charles. We usually receive in such films distorted portraits of them, or undeserved adulation. RAY is one of the more balanced biopics I have seen. Ray Charles is presented as a musical genius who had managed to overcome physical disabilities that would have stopped most others, but it doesn't attempt to mute the serious and unflattering personal moral problems he had with drugs and his exploitative treatment of women. Nor is he revealed as a moral saint or loving person. Though pleasant with others for the most part, Ray is shown as a proud, independent, and slightly self-absorbed, a bit selfish in his treatment of women. As a result, Ray Charles emerges in the film as a believable human being, capable of unfortunate decisions, but also extraordinary music and the occasional powerful moral stand, such as when he refuses to perform in a racially segregated crowd in a venue in Georgia. In fact, the film is built around three foci: his early childhood when he witnessed the death of his younger brother and gradually lost his sight; his musical career from 1948 until the mid-1960s; and his heroin addiction. The film ends with his overcoming his heroin addiction, which also-as numerous music critics have noted--corresponds to the end of the peak of his career as a creative musical performer. Charles continued to make albums after getting off heroin, but all of the great songs that we associate with him were written and recorded while on heroin. For the last forty years of his career, his sets consisted almost entirely of songs he made famous in the fifties and early sixties, with covers of songs by other musicians. There has been a long debate as to whether his addiction somehow aided his musical creativity, but even if so, no one would have wished him to continue to endanger his health and life.

Jamie Fox will without any possible doubt receive an Oscar nomination for this performance. This is considerably more than a good impersonation of Charles: it is almost as if Fox channels him. As much as I loved other biopics of music legends like THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY or WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT, throughout each I was conscious that Gary Busey was playing Buddy Holly and Angela Bassett playing Tina Turner. I completely forgot that Jamie Fox was playing Ray Charles, and despite being quite familiar with him, imagined that I was actually watching Charles onscreen. Yes, he does a killer impersonation of Charles, but he manages that first on top of that provides an amazing dramatic performance. This is great acting, not merely a great impersonation. The only performance of recent years of an actor portraying a prominent entertainer as superb as this is Robert Downey in CHAPLIN.

I also really loved the look of the film. Since it ended in the mid-1960s, the entire film was essentially a period film. There was a sense of visual veracity from beginning to end. I loved the cars, the clothes (especially the ties! - am I alone in thinking that the 1950s was the great decade for neckties?), the interior decors, the furniture. The scenes in the shanty town where Charles was a child were very effective.

The cast aside from Fox was quite strong, made up mainly of relatively unknown performers. There were many other things to enjoy about the film. Of course, the music is absolutely sensational, consisting either of remasters of original Ray Charles's recordings, or new recordings for which Charles provided the vocals. I also loved the relationship in the film between Charles and Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records. There is nothing of the stereotypical relationship between artist and executives that invests so many of the stories of musicians in the 1950s and 1960s. Ertegun is rightfully remembered as one of the truly great figures in the recording industry, someone who was in it more for the music than for the money, and who treated his artists with a degree of respect that was too frequently absent. The film does a good job of presenting Charles's dilemma: ABC-Monument made him an offer that he simply couldn't refuse, yet at the same time we are all aware that Charles was, in a way, screwing Atlantic over by leaving them for ABC-Monument. All in all, I loved this warts and all approach to the subject matter. There is absolutely no question that Ray Charles was one of the most astonishing performers of the fifties and sixties, and doing all he did despite his blindness is an amazing saga. He truly was a genius, even if he was a somewhat flawed person. But you have to love the way that he managed to overcome his personal shortcomings to become not merely one of the most successful but one of the most beloved musical performers of his age.
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87 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Life's story of an imperfect man who did amazing things, November 12, 2004
By 
I went to see Ray in the theaters last night because my sister suggested it and because I was in a mood to see something "critically acclaimed". For the record, I knew very little about the man and so had very few preconceptions. What I saw made a deep impression in my mind and heart.

Ray Robinson, aka Ray Charles the singer, songwriter and musician, was blind since the age of 7. He had to deal not only with bigotry for his disability but for being black in Georgia before the civil rights movement. Throughout his life many people (both black and white) would try to take advantage of the blind man, ripping him off financially or hoarding his talent for their own gain. Ray had both the blessing and the curse of being a ladies' man, resulting in serial affairs while his wife stayed home and raised their family. It surprised me to learn that he fought an addiction to heroin for well over a decade before finally beating it in the `60s. Nevertheless, Ray carried all this baggage and more through the 40s and 50s as he made a name for himself playing piano in the Country, Jazz, etc. pop music circuits. Eventually of course he rose to become one of the most recognized and beloved musical artists worldwide.

The man that this film showed me was an incredible example of determination, charm and simple human spirit. I have heard others say that Jamie Foxx's acting was so good that they were half-convinced he was channeling Ray Charles' ghost. I'll take their word for it that it was an accurate performance, but regardless, it was also a great performance! Down the line each of the supporting actors was perfectly convincing and real, but none more so than Foxx. I will denounce the Academy if he isn't at least nominated for an Oscar.

The least of Ray's imperfections was his physical blindness --yet he had a powerful gift and the ability to reach into the collective soul of a nation. Over his long career as a musician and songwriter, Ray Charles Robinson created and performed some of the most memorable music to audiences across the country. Your color, age and creed doesn't matter; chances are, you've heard and loved at least one Ray Charles song in your lifetime. We'll never have another like him.

-Andrea, aka Merribelle.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ray Charles' Complex Life Matched by Superb Jamie Foxx, February 25, 2005
This review is from: Ray (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
I like "Ray." The music is strong, using Ray Charles' own tracks for both background and performance shots. The storyline is complex, flashing back to Charles' youth as he reflected on the loss of his eyesight and the death of his brother.

From his days as a child in a poor rural community, through his early days as an unknown musician struggling to get a fair deal, to his mid-career with management problems, affairs, hits, and drugs, and then, finally, as a one of our national heroes, we see Ray Charles in full color.

We learn how he manipulated women, cheated on his wife, became addicted to heroin, found his sound, got his name, and learned to work aggressively as his own musician. He deals with racism at first by avoiding it, and then quickly, takes a harsh stand, shaming the bigots and segregationists. Now, in a state where he was once banned from playing, his work, "Georgia on My Mind" is now the state song.

Biopics of celebrities are difficult to describe because of the chronology required to produce the movies. People don't live out plots written by screenwriters, but lives that have events that do not always make sense. Ray Charles' life didn't always make sense, but he lived it.

We have two views of Ray Charles. One is as a fighter, working hard against adversity to become the musician we now know. The other is as a womanizing addict who used his charm, position and trust of his wife to diminish all that was good about him. He eventually beats the drugs, holds onto his marriage, but these failures brought down my respect of him.

Jamie Foxx never impressed me before this. I found his comedy more off-color than I prefer, and expected that his version of Ray Charles would be mediocre. I heard the hype that his performance was Oscar-worthy, and watched the movie with the eyes of a skeptic. Now, I am impressed.

Jamie Foxx has a new fan. I hope he gets roles that allow him to shine like he does in "Ray."

The DVD for "Ray" adds to the movie. Normally, a DVD brings little extra that is interesting, but watching Jamie Foxx and Ray Charles interact was touching, as was hearing Foxx describe his experience in learning the role. We learn Foxx not only can play piano, but is trained at a high level. Those are his hands on the keys, and not movie magic. He respected Charles and the difficulty of playing an icon, and earned Charles' respect in the process.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WARNING ! DON'T BUY EXTENDED VERSION, February 7, 2005
By 
M. G. PHILLIPS (City of Orange, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Does anyone suspect that Helen Keller edited this film?
Shame on the director for allowing the ruination of this great masterpiece in the extended form!

GREAT FILM RUINED- BY BY BAD EDITING.
Here is what others are saying: "The big disappointment for me was buying the Limited Edition version with the extended edition of the movie. 25 minutes of additional footage has been added back in for the extended version. Like someone posted earlier, When viewing the "extended" version my player had to pause every time it went to a "deleted scene." It had to pause again when it went back to the theatrical version. I have other disks in my collection which have extended versions with deleted scenes cut into the film that were done seamlessly.

Not only was there a pause when switching between versions, but many times there was a shift in color cast and certain chapters (18 & 19 for me)of the movie became unwatchable and just froze up. For 30 Bucks I found this to be disgraceful and I will ask Best Buy for either another copy or just get the standard edition..

You have the option to watch either the original version or this extended version. The image quality, color and clarity vary a bit as it cuts between the theatrical version and the deleted scenes. Clearly, this wasn't recut and retimed for this "extended" version. The difference between the finished film and the added scenes are quite noticeable and jarring. A flawed masterpiece, Ray would have been a better film if the 25 minutes of additional footage had been integrated into this DVD in a better fashion than it is. No justice for the consumer, and none for the artists of the film and artist portrayed in the film."

(NOTE TO UNIVERSAL:If you can't do it right,then don't do it at all.)

I know a lot of people had problems with the extended version of the DVD, but it warns you that it might not play well on certain DVD players.

Might not?

How'bout ANY player? And the two second delay seems HUGE, . . . stop action . . . wait then it jumps sometimes forward and sometimes backward UNTIMED!

This is not a review, but more of a rant on my part as a DVD Collector of 1,260+ DVD's. Please view this as an individual opinion on Universal, not on the content of the Film, Ray.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Acting Is Top Notch, DVD Transfer is Horrible!!!, February 2, 2005
By 
I somehow missed this at the movies but I was determined with all the Oscar buzz and hype Jamie Foxx was receiving, that I'd buy it and form my own opinion. I have to give it up for Jamie Foxx, he just didn't play Ray Charles, he practically was Ray Charles. His acting was just absolutely flawless. The supporting cast of Clifton Powell, Regina King, Kelly Washington, Larenz Tate, Bokeem Woodbine, and the newcomer who played his mother (I forgot her name that quick) who's never been in anything outside of a local theatre when discovered, all did a marvelous job as well. I was never a really big Ray Charles fan but I loved the music in the film. However, the big disappointment for me was buying the Limited Edition version with the extended edition of the movie. Like someone posted earlier, When viewing the "extended" version my player had to pause every time it went to a "deleted scene." It had to pause again when it went back to the theatrical version. I have other disks in my collection which have extended versions with deleted scenes cut into the film that were done seamlessly.

Not only was there a pause when switching between versions, but many times there was a shift in color cast and certain chapters (18 & 19 for me)of the movie became unwatchable and just froze up. For 30 Bucks I found this to be disgraceful and I will ask Best Buy for either another copy or just get the standard edition. The special features on Disc 2 were excellent including the uncut performances that were cut short in the original film and the meeting of Foxx and Charles in a studio in 2002 to see if Foxx met Ray's approval (which it obviously did). Foxx is not only a talented actor, but an extremely gifted pianist come to find out. The sky's the limit for this brother and I hope he comes away with the Oscar cuz his performance again was flawless. I'd suggest buying the standard edition just to avoid all the nonsense I had to go through with extended edition. If not for the sorry DVD transfer this would easily been a five star classic. Who knows maybe they'll do like everyone else and come out with another edition with better film transfer. Great Biopic though.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man and the Music, August 17, 2005
This review is from: Ray (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
The fabulous music, and a performance by Jamie Foxx that captures the essence of the complex character that was Ray Charles, override the flaws that may be found in this film. Ray's roots were in the abject poverty of his youth in Greenville, Florida, where he witnessed the drowning of his younger brother, and shortly afterward started to go blind at the age of 5. Many of the events from his childhood are told in flashbacks, and there is a magical scene where he learns to use his ears to replace his eyes, as his mother watches in silence. His life on the road, his many women, and his battle with heroin addiction are depicted, but it's the music that drove his life. Ray was a musical genius who also had an astute instinct for business, and for what songs to add to his repertoire, which often broke new ground and went against the advice of the record industry experts.

Every bit of praise and every award (including the Best Actor Oscar) for Jamie Foxx is justified. Though the soundtrack uses the original recordings dating as far back as the 1953 "Mess Around," Foxx is obviously an accomplished pianist; the actor and his role are like a marriage made in heaven, and this film biography will surely become a classic. The others in the cast that surround him are excellent, with Sharon Warren as his mother, Regina King as Margie Hendricks, and Curtis Armstrong as Ahmet Ertegun among the standouts.

Director Taylor Hackwood blends the flashbacks and nightmares from the past into the thread of the story in a cohesive manner, and one is never lost in the sequences, as can easily happen with that style of storytelling. The flaws in the film would be in some of the stereotypical characterizations, but they fade into the background quickly as the power of Ray the genius and Jamie the actor rivet out attention to the screen. "Ray" also received an Oscar for Best Sound, and nominations for Best Picture, Director, Editing, and Costume Design. The songs include: "Mess Around," "I Got a Woman," "Night Time is the Right Time," "What'd I Say," "Georgia on My Mind," "Hit the Road, Jack," "Unchain My Heart," "I Can't Stop Loving You," "Born to Lose," and much more. Total running time is 153 minutes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jamie Foxx earned his Oscar!, February 27, 2005
Ray Charles himself annointed this young talent and now Foxx has joined the ranks of Poitier, Denzel Washington and now Morgan Freeman, as one of the great African American actors of our time! I am so godly proud of him tonite on his special nite of recognition and like Jamie said in his acceptance speech, his Grandmother is certainly looking down on him tonite, smiling a big smile of approval and blessing and indeed, they will have a great conversation and much to talk about in his dreams! CONGRATULATIONS JAMIE~ you deserve this and you definitely earned it and we are all proud of you in Texas!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best music biopic since "What's Love Got to Do With It", September 28, 2004
By 
Benjamin (ATLANTA, United States) - See all my reviews
"Ray," which I just caught in a sneak preview, is a grand film. It's vastly entertaining, incredibly well-acted and visually striking. Beyond that, the film gives a warts-and-all portrayal of its talented and troubled subject, Ray Charles.

Though it deals primarily with Charles's attempts to make it in the music business and his struggles with womanizing and drug addiction, the film's most touching moments come from jarring flashes to his troubled, rural childhood. One scene, in which Charles's strong mother teaches him how to be self-reliant in spite of his blindness, is played without dialogue, yet the power of the scene reduced me to tears.

Also, the film answers some key questions about how Charles coped with blindness and racism during his life.

Jamie Foxx, who was already brilliant this year in "Collateral," gives his greatest performance to date as Charles. He has the mannerisms of the musician down, yet Foxx does more than mimic Charles and play up the man's disability. He's able to give Charles a sympathetic edge necessary throughout the film, even when Charles does some despicable things to his business partners and the women in his life. Foxx carries the movie, pays proper tribute to an American legend while keeping him human and injects the movie with enthusiasm and a sense of humor. This is the sort of acting that should and hopefully will garner an Academy Award nomination.

Charles filled his life with intelligent, strong women. Kerry Washington and Regina King, playing his wife Della and his mistress Margie Hendrix, give notable performances in the film.

Though the film has some flaws, it's compelling and watchable. And the touching story has an added impact because of Charles's recent death.

Thankfully, the movie, done with Charles's approval before his death, is filled with his great music.

I highly recommend "Ray."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a HD DVD wonder, August 27, 2006
By 
tomas montero (Miami, Florida USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ray [HD DVD] (HD DVD)
This is where HD Dvd brings the difference.Amazing pictures and sound.

A must have .

As for the movie and the story "ray" is a superb movie
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very honest biopic..., March 14, 2005
By 
This review is from: Ray (Full Screen Edition) (DVD)
...which doesn't try to cover over Ray Charles' darker side, namely his heroin addiction and serial adultery. Usually most biopics either gloss over or moralize about such things, this film mercifully just tells it like it is.

Jamie Foxx most certainly deserved his Oscar for this performance, and he's backed by a strong cast. Of course the music is sensational, and it was usually very hard to tell when Foxx was lip-syncing.

My only disappointment was that this film seems to suggest that Charles simply up and quit heroin once and for all---which if true would be extremely remarkable since heroin is the type of drug that usually takes years and years of falling off the wagon and getting back on, before you finally break free.
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