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Year: 2004
Director: Taylor Hackford

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Cast:

Jamie Foxx (Ray Charles), Kerry Washington (Della Bea Robinson), Regina King (Margie Hendricks), Clifton Powell (Jeff Brown), Harry Lennix (Joe Adams), Bokeem Woodbine (Fathead Newman), Aunjanue Ellis (Mary Ann Fisher), Sharon Warren (Aretha Robinson), C.J. Sanders (Young Ray Robinson), Curtis Armstrong (Ahmet Ertegun), Richard Schiff (Jerry Wexler), Larenz Tate (Quincy Jones), Terrence Howard (Gossie McGee (as Terrence Dashon Howard)), David Krumholtz (Milt Shaw), Wendell Pierce (Wilbur Brassfield), Chris Thomas King (Lowell Fulson), Thomas Jefferson Byrd (Jimmy), Rick Gomez (Tom Dowd), Denise Dowse (Marlene), Warwick Davis (Oberon)

Storyline:

Ray Charles has the distinction of being both a national treasure and an international phenomenon. By the early 1960's Ray Charles had accomplished his dream. He'd come of age musically. He'd made it to Carnegie Hall. The hit records "Georgia," "Born to Lose" successively kept climbing to the top of the charts. He'd made his first triumphant European concert tour in 1960 (a feat which, except for 1965, he's repeated at least once a year ever since). He had taken virtually every form of popular music and broken through its boundaries with such awe inspiring achievements as the LP's "Genius Plus Soul Equals Jazz" and "Modern Sounds in Country & Western." Rhythm & blues (or "race music" as it had been called) became universally respectable through his efforts. Jazz found a mainstream audience it had never previously enjoyed. And country & western music began to chart an unexpected course to general acceptance, then worldwide popularity. And along the way Ray Charles was instrumental in the invention of rock & roll. Born in a poor African American town in central Florida, Ray Charles went blind at the age of 7. With the staunch support of his determined single mother, he developed the fierce resolve, wit and incredible talent that would eventually enable him to overcome not only Jim Crow Racism and the cruel prejudices against the blind, but also discover his own sound which revolutionized American popular music. Nonetheless, as Ray's unprecedented fame grew, so did his weakness for drugs and women, until they threatened to strip away the very things he held most dear. This little known story of Ray Charles' meteoric rise from humble beginnings, his successful struggle to excel in a sighted world and his eventual defeat of his own personal demons make for an inspiring and unforgettable true story of human triumph. Written by Crusader

Reviews:

My wife wanted to see this movie and I grudgingly went along. I have never been a big fan of the biopic - believing that cinema is more exciting when it isn't structured in non-fiction. Beyond that, although I like Ray Charles' music just fine, I don't consider myself a fan of him or his music.

I expected to either suffer or coast through this movie.

I was wrong.

This is an engaging story told in a classic cinematic style. The realism is in the nuances - the tilt of a character's head after a dramatic moment or the look in their eyes while they sing. I literally discovered myself involved in this movie during the course of viewing it.

Jaime Foxx, of which much has been said, heads a cast of immaculate re-creators of not just a time, but an ERA, a LIFE that never really existed to those of us under forty. This movie sinks the audience into time without the gimmicks and grand sweeping panoramas of Titanic or other period pieces of that ilk. This movie doesn't present you with the 50's and 60's music scene, it takes you there.

This is a movie about Ray Charles, but your appreciate of it should not be limited to the story of his life. This is the kind of movie, like Saving Private Ryan or Schindler's List, that does what a movie should do - bring you to another place, another time.

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Given that Jamie Fox's former leading credentials not that long ago were limited to the Fox comedy series In Living Color and the atrocity of film, Booty Call, this is a truly pleasant surprise break-out performance. Jamie Fox is Ray Charles in this movie. You never question it or even think of him as Jamie Fox. It truly is uncanny. He physically looks like him, especially with the glasses, but the true magic of the performance is that he acts just like him. He walks around and performs like him, smiles like him, and just does everything like him. This is the best rendering of a real-life character in film since Jim Carrey's depiction of Andy Kaufman in Man On The Moon. However, I'd venture to say that Fox's rendering of Ray is even better. The film itself is good too, though it fails to make a smooth transition in several parts of it and lulls in some parts, while not lingering long enough in others. Of course all films of this nature that are essentially biographies to some extent tend to suffer somewhat from things of this nature. It's hard to pack 70 years into 2 1/2 hrs. Thus, the script mainly traces his early days starting out in music up into the late 60's, with a few flashbacks into his childhood and a brief jump to a single event in 1979. This is the only film I have ever seen in which the entire audience, myself included, stood up and gave a standing ovation after the last scene. It's a celebration of the life of Ray Charles that must be seen by all of his fans. The film doesn't pull any punches though. Two of the main dramatic focuses of the picture are Ray's infidelity on the road and his heroine addiction. All-in-all, a good movie, a great Oscar-worthy performance, and a good way to spend 2 1/2 hrs. This movie held my attention so well throughout its entirety that I really couldn't believe it was nearly as long as a lengthy epic like Titanic. A few quick notes: Jamie Fox spent a lot of time with Ray Charles in preparing for this role. Jamie wore prosthetics during the entire filming of the movie that made him unable to see, so if you wonder why he acts like he's blind so well, it's because he was for the movie. Also, he did all the piano playing himself, as he is practically a professionally trained pianist himself. However, for the singing, Jamie lip syncs perfectly to Charles' vocals. Overall, 8/10 movie...10/10 Jamie Fox performance.

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