After E.F. Bloodworth abandoned his wife and family to take up a life on the road, he never really expected to return. Having left the family home whilst his sons were still young, it's now 40 years later and Bloodworth returns to his old house. His (now ex) wife never really mentally recovered from E.F's departure and their sons haven't forgiven him for leaving.
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After seeing Steve Buscemi's sophomore directorial effort, Animal Factory (following 1996's Trees Lounge), I nearly reconsidered choosing film criticism as a career path. For the first hour of this film, it seemed the way to go was to become a convict. (By the way, ma, they don't call 'em inmates in the pen, they call 'em convicts.)
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Joel Schumacher, director of some of the worst films in a generation (8MM, Batman & Robin, Batman Forever), redeems himself with his first really good flick since Falling Down in 1993. A tale of army recruits in their final days of training before heading to Vietnam in 1971, Tigerland is an original and modestly powerful anti-war film that never even goes "in country."
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At the center of any good biographical feature film is a great performance, like Jamie Foxx's body-and-soul channeling of soul music's original ivory-twinkling innovator Ray Charles in "Ray." But a great performance does not make a biopic great. To rise above the kind of "true stories" that are the fodder of several assembly-line TV movies every year, a biopic needs to be like Ray Charles -- departing from formula and daring to be different.
Director Taylor Hackford (who once helmed the Chuck Berry concert film "Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll") doesn't manage that in "Ray," a film that feels more like a two-and-a-half-hour highlights reel from Charles' life. But as a primer on that man's life (musical brilliance, adultery, addiction, and lip service to lyrical controversy and segregation struggles) -- and for a film with a prefabricated story arc and little detail (Charles fathered 12 kids, only three or four of which are even mentioned in the film) -- "Ray" could be a lot worse.
At the very least it has a passionately devoted, dead-on lead actor -- Foxx not only nails the blind soul king's swaying jitterbug body language, but also seems to capture his very essence as a man and musician -- and a whole lot of fantastic, toe-tapping, heart-pumping R&B.
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Bindi Irwin paid an emotional tribute to her late father 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin...