February 1st, 2005



Sometimes, you watch a movie about a person's life, and you wonder how they managed to become what they became. I mean, I know people who can't survive without their iPod, their laptop, their cellphone, cable television with TiVo, voicemail, Post-It Notes, Starbuck's coffee...things that didn't exist fifty years ago! How, I wonder, would the spoiled brats of the New Millennium (myself included) have fared growing up in the rural South with no eyesight?

Ray Charles Robinson fared pretty well. Ray went from being a sharecropper's son to becoming an internationally famous musical pioneer. His momma would be proud.

About the music and the fame, anyway. The way he treated women and the raging heroin addiction? Not so much. However, Jamie Foxx does an excellent Ray Charles, and he definitely deserves the nomination he received, if not the statue that accompanies 1/5 of the nominees home at the end of Oscar night.

It's nice to see that while he was a musical legend, he also had a deep dark side. So many biopics sidestep the not-so-nice bits. Although there is one archaically ironic scene in which Ray's wife, Della Bea, takes him to task for his heroin addiction after one of the Raylettes (who was also one of his mistresses) dies from an overdose, asking him if he wants his children exposed to, and hooked on, the drug. This speech is delivered while Ray is chainsmoking, and he is seen wreathed in cigarette smoke. Evidently, Della Bea didn't have a problem with him exposing the children to nicotine addiction. Oh, those naïve 1950's and early 60's...

The period is excellent. The furniture, the clothes, the cars...dead on perfect. I do have a question about the coffee cups (did NYC use those Greek-style paper coffee cups in the 50's?) but apart from that, it's an incredible recreation.

Too bad Ray didn't live to see it.
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