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PCR # 240  (Vol. 5, No. 44)  This edition is for the week of October 25--31, 2004.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"I Married The Dead!" A True Florida Horror Story....A Visit With A Comic Book Hero
 by Will Moriaty
 by Mike Smith
Recommended Viewing For Halloween
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The Halloween Horror Picture Show 2004...."Filthy" plays "Flicks on Fairbanks", Orlando...."Do They Know It's Christmas?" '04, Oddservations Calendar....and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
 by Andy Lalino
Rakuween Turns 5!!!
 by Brandon Jones
Happy Birthday....Babe Who?....Shaking With Antici -- pation....Aaargh!....Love Those Brits....Vote!....Meet The Beatles, Part 40
 by Mike Smith
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Starring: Jamie Foxx, Kerrie Washington, Regina King, Larenz Tate and Curtis Armstrong
Directed by: Taylor Hackford
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 32 mins

May I have the envelope, please? And the Oscar goes to...................

OK, I'm getting a little ahead of myself here. It's been four months since the great Ray Charles passed away. Before he left us, he gave his blessing and his life lessons to Jamie Foxx and Taylor Hackford. They have given us a movie biography that doesn't sugar coat it's subject. What you get is Ray Charles as you remember him. And Ray Charles as you never knew him.

The film begins with young Ray Charles Robinson (Foxx) heading by bus to Seattle to join up with a jazz combo. Along the way, he begins to experience flashbacks involving water, each one more intense then the last. Fighting through his visions, he arrives in Seattle and is met by a young musician who introduces himself as Quincy Jones (Tate). After demonstrating his prowess on the keyboards, Ray is quickly drafted into the house band and slowly develops a following. Soon he and his bandmates are traveling the country. But Ray, blind since the age of 7, is unaware that some of his fellow musicians are taking advantage of his talents. Eventually, he is signed to a recording contract and, because of the popularity of boxer "Sugar" Ray Robinson, he drops his last name and becomes, simply, Ray Charles.

Ray Charles had an almost 60 year career in music, first combining jazz and gospel into his signature sound before branching out to almost all genre's of music. This much is common knowledge. But it is the behind the scenes Ray that captures your attention. Through flashbacks, we learn that as a boy Ray witnessed the drowning death of his little brother, George. Shortly after, he began losing his sight. His strength, then and for the rest of his life, was his mother (Sharon Warren). She instilled in him the will to not let himself be treated as a cripple, to stand up for himself and follow his dreams. From his early start to his sold out concerts, from being banned from playing in the state of Georgia after refusing to play for a segregated crowd to his battles with heroin, this is the story that needed to be told.

It's been some time since director Hackford has crafted a movie this good. His use of authentic film footage of various eras helps authenticate the film and the period shown. The cast is outstanding. As the two women in Charles' lives, Washington and King show that Ray was a hard man to love. But love him they did. And very happy to see Curtis Armstrong back on the screen. Armstrong, probably best known as "Booger" from the "Revenge of the Nerds" films, does a fine job as real life record executive Ahmet Urtegun. But the film belongs to Foxx. Despite his comic background, Foxx has most impressed in dramatic roles in such films as "On Any Sunday" and, earlier this year, in "Collateral." Like Gary Busey playing Buddy Holly or Val Kilmer channeling Jim Morrison, Foxx literally inhabits Charles. A trained pianist, Foxx has the moves and gestures down pat. And with his eyes cosmetically glued shut, he immerses himself, and the audience, into the world Ray Charles knew and the life he lived.

While glancing through the notebook I take with me when I watch a movie, I noticed that on October 14, 2003, I reviewed "Mystic River." In the middle of the page were two words circled: PENN. OSCAR. Four months later, Sean Penn won the Academy Award for Best Actor. As I left the theatre tonight, a little more than a year later, I circled two words on the page from "Ray." FOXX. OSCAR. Check with me in February! "Ray" is a film that delivers on all cylinders and is truly a fitting legacy to the great man himself.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Ray"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "Ray" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2004, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.