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 intoÂ 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.