Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Thursday, 25 November 2010
Covering the course of almost twenty years we see how blind pianist Ray Charles (Jamie Foxx) went from a low-key casual musician to one of the biggest names in piano, as well as his womanizing, his heroin addiction, and how he went clean. In flashback we learn about his childhood and how, at aged 7, Ray (C.J. Sanders) went blind, only a year after younger brother George (Terrone Bell) died in a tragic accident.
From the first moment we are made aware that this is a true story we are about to watch, and within our subconsciences this makes us look at the film differently to how we would if it was another run of the mill blockbuster. For this we sympathize for Ray Charles as we are aware that everything we see on screen happened to him, and the real life turmoil would have been 10 times worse than it is on screen. A lot of biopic films try to evoke feelings of sympathy from their viewers, however, the number that are successful is quite limited. There are a number of ways in which Ray is very successful in creating these feelings within us, but none more so than the fantastic performances from a superb ensemble of actors/actresses.
In a performance that won him Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor, Jamie Foxx excells as Ray. In a performance that evokes much poignancy, Foxx makes Ray very deep and very emotionally complex. In what must be one of the hardest performances in years, due mostly to the fact that Foxx had to have his eyes closed whenever filming, even in scenes where Ray wears his signature sunglasses, Foxx is exceptionally convincing, making Ray's womanizing complex, his heroin addiction very chilling, his manner (on stage mostly) charming, and his hate for his lack of sight, racial segregation and his heroin addiction very heartfelt and moving. Truly Foxx earned those awards. Foxx is provided with a great supporting cast, most memorable of all being Sharon Warren, who makes Ray's wife's hate for what her husband's heroin addiction very deep and moving; Kerry Washington, as Ray's mother in flashbacks, who makes the grief over George's death and Ray's going blind very heartfelt and emotional; and Regina King as Ray's mistress on tour, who makes her character very no-nonsense and strong.
Recreating some of Ray's biggest hits, the soundtrack is very catchy and it is very interesting to see how Ray's music developed over the years, and coupled with excellent cinematography that almost recreates some of his concerts from different points of view, and the editing that puts them together, it is very well made and intricate in design. Seeing how Ray developed over the years you feel yourself bonding with the character, feeling his grief and pain, so it is very heartbreaking at the very end of the film, which shows clips of Ray's later life and ending with words coming up saying Ray Charles Robinson 1930-2004, as you almost feel you should grieve for him, even now, pushing seven years after his passing.
Evoking feelings of sympathy and sadness throughout, this is a very heartfelt and powerful biopic with an excellent ensemble and a memorable screenplay, without which the cast couldn't have churned out such excellent performances.
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Sharon Warren, Kerry Washington, Regina King, Harry Lennix, Clifton Powell, C.J. Sanders, Bokeem Woodbine, Aunjanue Ellis, Larenz Tate, Curtis Armstrong, Richard Schiff, Terrone Bell, Terrence Dashon Howard, David Krumholtz, Wendell Pierce.
Oscars: Best Actor (Jamie Foxx), Best Sound Mixing (Scott Millan, Greg Orloff, Bob Beemer, Steve Cantamessa).
Oscar nominations: Best Picture (Taylor Hackford, Stuart Benjamin, Howard Baldwin), Best Director (Taylor Hackford), Best Editing (Paul Hirsch), Best Costume Design (Sharen Davis).