Sharon Warren

Sharon Warren

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Ray Review


OK
Every time former Booty Call-er Jamie Foxx rasps his voice, sways gracefully on a piano bench, or hugs his own torso in triumph, we lose the actor we've come to know completely. Left standing in his place is the late Ray Charles, staring back at us from behind those trademark sunglasses - and yes, we eventually learn why he wears them.

Foxx's tribute, solidified whenever he breaks into Charles' signature grin, goes beyond mimicry to find the soul of one of America's most gifted songwriters. You'll undoubtedly leave Ray talking about Foxx's career performance. The discussion may continue right up until Oscar night.

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Ray Review


Weak

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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Sharon Warren

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