Dennis D. McDonald (ddmcd@ddmcd.com) consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management. Follow him on Google+. He publishes on CTOvision.com and aNewDomain and volunteers with the Alexandria Film Festival. He is also on Linkedin. To subscribe to emailed updates about additions to this web site click here.

Ray

Ray

Review by Dennis D. McDonald

I remember a couple of years ago Diana Krall came to the DC area, headlining for Ray Charles. I didn't go to the concert, I was only interested in Krall. Paying so much to see what I considered to be a "vintage" act just didn't seem like a good idea.

Maybe I was wrong. The image of Ray Charles presented in this movie is a fascinating warts-and-all tale that few biopics ever aspire to and the music is definitely a toe tapper. Seeing so many live club performances made me envy the folks living at the time who were present at the birth of this art.

About the movie: A fantastic performance by Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, great music, terrific recreations of mid-century USA, insight into  the recording industry, and lots of beautiful women. What's not to like?

Not a lot. Foxx's performance propels this movie way above other biographies. At times I stared in astonishment at his performance. Scary, it's so spot-on.

There are a few rough spots. The extra minutes on the DVD don't add that much, in my opinion, to an already over-long movie. I had some trouble with the older DVD player I used since whenever the extra minutes were selected the image switched out of the 16x9 mode - a definitive annoyance.

There's also a curious absence of information about what else was going on in popular music during Ray's career. What about Motown, for example?

Finally, the Ray Charles portrayed here is Not A Nice Guy. I admire the honesty -- he participated in the development of the movie before his death -- but I'm not sure I'd have appreciated knowing him knowing what I do now.

But his music lives on. I don't think I'll hear "Hit The Road, Jack" again without having a different perspective about it.
 

Guy Maddin's THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD

Guy Maddin's THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD

Masayuki Suo's SHALL WE DANCE

Masayuki Suo's SHALL WE DANCE