Sunday, February 13, 2011

Film Yap: Ray

In 2004, Ray came out and was a huge success. It racked up a few Oscars, including a win for Jamie Foxx in Best Actor. As time went by the popularity for the film has faded a bit. Some of it is due to overexposure of the musical biopic. Ray inspired films like Walk the Line and the genre spoof Walk Hard.

Ray is a very solid film, but it’s also very conventional. The problem with any biopic is playing up the highlights of their life and not telling a full story. That’s when everything appears to be more formulaic and not organic. Ray is able to sidestep some of those problems by having a really great ensemble. Foxx earned a lot of praise for his portrayal of Ray Charles even though it always feels like an impersonation. Kerry Washington, Regina King, Terrence Howard, David Krumholtz, and Richard Schiff all give solid performances.

The musical numbers are a lot of fun as an introduction to Charles’ music or as warm nostalgia. Director Taylor Hackford moves the story quickly even though he sometimes relies on simplistic characterization for its leads. Still there is a strong element of fun throughout the film that makes this so watchable whenever it appears on TV.

The new Blu-Ray is full of spiffy bonus features. There are a number of uncut musical performances from the movie. There is a really nice piece with Foxx and the real Ray Charles that show how he got into the character. There’s a tribute to Charles as well as a number of more featurettes, a commentary track by Hackford, and of course deleted scenes. It’s a very full and worthwhile new release if you are a fan of the movie.

Film: 3.5 Yaps

Extras: 4 Yaps

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