BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEWS

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Ray
DVD disk
Feb 8, 2005 By: Quigles
Ray order
Director:
Taylor Hackford

Actors:
Jamie Foxx
Kerry Washington
Regina King

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Based on the story of the blind musician Ray Charles, this movie explores the life of a man who started with nothing and then kept growing until he reached the top, and then he stayed there until his recent death in 2004. We see everything from Rayís memories as a kid, his several issues with women, drug problems, overcoming his handicap, and of course, plenty of fine tunes from the piano playing master that is Ray Charles Robinson.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
It would be pretty pointless for me to say that Jamie Foxx does an incredible job playing Ray, seeing as how heís been nominated for Best Actor, and heís even been highly proclaimed almost everywhere as the main reason to see the movie. With that in mind, I refuse to dwell on Foxxís spot-on interpretation of Charles, but instead would just like to really quickly add my two cents on the matter and be done with it. Not only is Foxx highly believable and incredibly watchable as Charles, but he also shows a sense of emotion and love for who heís portraying, and truly helps the audience to connect on all levels with him. Now that thatís been said, I would like to move on to the storyís main ideas, many of which showcase sides of Charles you wouldnít expect. This movie does a lot more than just play as a tribute to Ray; instead, it actually brings out the skeletons in his closet, including showing him having affairs and becoming a heroin addict. Sure, it gives you the chance to smile happily through the lighter sides of Ray, but it also gives you a taste of his darker side, all the while entertaining you with his unique and wonderful brand of music. In other words, I laughed, I cried, and above all, I did the ďMess AroundĒ. (To all of those non-Charles fans, Mess Around is one of his oh-so-great songs)

Itís a hard task for a movie to introduce so many elements and then string them together seamlessly, but Ray pulls it off. Well, for the most part it does. Iím guessing the director wanted to make sure that you didnít forget about certain issues in Charlesí life, because he kept adding in little reminders. I donít want to ruin the film for you, but Iíll try to explain; much of the movie consists of focusing on one central idea at a time (such as drugs), but in an attempt to make sure youíre still also thinking about a separate matter thatís at hand, Hackford (the director) adds in little scenes revolving around the completely different subject (such as reminding you about Rayís past). This makes the movie drag on a little more than it has to, plus it interrupts the movieís flow a bit, but other than that, it doesnít really affect the enjoyment of the film. My only other minor complaint involves the obvious ďactingĒ from the two kids (Ray and his brother George), which took me out of the emotional situation being presented concerning them. Thatís nothing though when you compare to all the greatness presented throughout the 154 minute run time. Itís impossible to appreciate what an amazing man Charles was without watching this film, because even though itís not him on-screen, itís still a damn excellent portrayal of his life.
THE EXTRAS
Despite getting a two-disc set, the extras here are fairly standard. Thatís not to say we donít get some tasty snacks to nibble on.

DISC ONE:

Extended Edition of the Film: This basically just interweaves the deleted scenes from disc two into their place in the movie. To be honest, I thought it was done badly. It might just be my DVD player, but every time it went to the extended scenes from the regular scenes, the film paused on a frame, and then went to it. It really destroyed the flow of the movie. They are worth watching though, but itís no big deal since you can watch them on the second disc.

Audio Commentary (with director Taylor Hackford): A terrific and informative track that any fan of Ray should watch. My only complaint is that every now and then Hackford starts to just explain whatís going on in the scene, as if the audience couldnít figure it out themselves.

Cast & Filmakers: Basic bios on many different people from the cast and crew.

DISC TWO:

Deleted Scenes (27:43): These 14 scenes include very insightful optional commentary from Hackford. Although none of them add too much extra to the movie, they are all worth watching. They arenít cut because theyíre bad, but because of time, which is obvious right away.

Extended Musical Sequences (4:29): Just two songs done in the movie in their entirety. I love Charlesí music, so whatís to complain about?

Stepping into the Part (10:41): An interesting look into what Jamie Foxx had to go through to become Ray. Itís very cool to see both Jamie and Charles together on screen, so I definitely recommend watching this.

Ray Remembered (4:04): A short and thoughtful look back at the legends life. Many different people speak their mind. RIP Ray Charles.

A Look Inside Ray (3:21): A very quick and crappy ďmaking ofĒ featurette that informed me about jack-diddly.

We also get the film's Trailer.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
A movie like RAY just begs to get noticed. With a terrific lead, excellent directing, an interesting story to tell, and of course wonderful music, it has all the ingredients of an Oscar winning drama. From that information alone you should know how much you will enjoy RAY. If youíre looking for a great drama with brilliant acting and music, you wont be disappointed in the least. Hell, you may even consider buying it youíll like it so much. But if you prefer the comedic talents of Foxx, and donít like that feel good music like ďHit the Road JackĒ, then maybe this movie isnít for you. Even so, I wouldnít pass this one by without at least a rental. You never know, you could be as surprised as I was with it, and may even decide to add it to your collection.
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