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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Who 'Ray'? Maybe

I've been out to the flicks again, when I should have been writing.

I went to see 'Ray', the movie based on Ray Charles' life. I must say I have mixed feelings about it. It does tell the story, simply and directly - but it also has those dreadful dramatic short cuts and shallow tricks that are standard Hollywood fare. It belittles the genius of Ray Charles, and as such I would not recommend it to serious Charles fans. The general public will like it no doubt, for its sensationalism about his drug taking and womanising, and they will obviously learn a little about the innovations in popular music brought about by Ray Charles. No doubt it will sell the soundtrack which must be a good thing, I suppose - more people to love the music of Ray Charles.

A couple of scenes are very embarrassing: one where Ray and his lover on the road, and leader of the Raelettes, Marjorie, is telling him she is leaving, and he is intent on his next composition at the keyboard in her room ... She yells more abuse at him after telling him she's pregnant and having his baby (he's got a wife and kids at home)- and he says, 'That's it' and begins to play 'Hit the road, Jack' ... If that ain't bad enough, she joins in and sings the response! Right there, in the room, ad lib! It's like extremely bad opera ...

Other scenes which may seem unlikely to the viewer are based on fact. Like when Ray sends the Raelettes out of a recording session and records the three or four part female harmony part (the well-known 'chick chorus') himself later. True, that's how it happened.

Ray Charles was a genius, and I doubt that any movie could ever capture his creativity, or the circumstances of it, on the screen. A documentary would be more satisfying, using old footage and talking with his mates, like Fathead and Quincy Jones, maybe his wife and sons. This movie doesn't cut the mustard, for all the brouhaha surrounding it at present.

Go to http://emol.org/film/archives/ray/index.html for all the industry info and hardsell.

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