Monday, December 21, 2009

What’d I Say?

Finally got around to watching Ray (2004) this weekend, thanks to Netflix. (I know, I am way behind.) Loved the music, of course. (My maternal grandmother had some Ray Charles LPs which I got turned onto sometime in my early teens. They’ve passed down to me and still get spun with regularity on my studio turntable.) And I really appreciated the nice graphic vignettes that are sprinkled throughout. (It’s so inspiring to see graphic design being employed in movies in the digital age in ways that just weren’t feasible or even possible in earlier days.) There are some great performances here, some interesting (sometimes painful) character development going on, and some really nice dramatic touches throughout. In particular, I thought the theme of blindness was handled with artfully balanced sensitivity—it was certainly prominent, but not played up to the point of becoming all-consuming, as it might have been. (Incidentally, I’ve always been struck by how often the lyrics in Ray’s songs employ the idea of seeing…see the girl with the red dress on?…I can see that far away look in your eyes…still in peaceful dreams I see…you are my sunshine, etc. Also, a somewhat random observation: isn’t it rather strange how many famous musicians—Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley—have been haunted by dead siblings?) On a more sobering note, without getting too raunchy or debased (PG-13), the film offers a straight-up portrayal of the uglier side of Mr. Charles’ sin-riddled double life—the kind of in-your-face negative example which is helpful for husbands and fathers to be confronted with from time to time.

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