RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Gov. Northam announced ‘Raymond and Ray’, from Apple Original Films, will be filmed in central Virginia this fall.
The movie will star Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor who plays half-brothers who have lived in the shadow of a difficult father. The film will be directed and written by Rodrigo Garcia.
Julie Lynn, a board member for the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville and a UVA graduate, is one of the producers. Other producers are Oscar-winner Alfonso Cuarón and Bonnie Curtis.
“Major projects like Raymond and Ray shine a powerful spotlight on and increase awareness of all that Virginia offers,” said Gov. Northam said.“We look forward to working with the film’s exceptional team and to the economic benefits a film of this scale will bring to Virginia workers and businesses.”
Recent major projects that have been filmed in Virginia include the feature film Tapawingo, the Hulu limited series Dopesick, AMC’s The Walking Dead: World Beyond, and Apple TV’s Swagger.
For more information about Virginia’s film production industry, click here.
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Jamie Foxx creates such a real and vivid person that we almost forget that he is re-enacting someone else's life. The movie's two greatest strengths are Foxx's incendiary and fully-inhabited performance and Charles' peerless music. There are also outstanding supporting performances, including Kerry Washington as Charles' wife Della Bea, Regina King as back-up singer (and mistress) Margie, and Curtis Armstrong as Atlantic records executive Ahmet Ertegun.
But RAY focuses too much on Charles' personal life, and not enough of the process, inspiration, collaboration, or the passion that made the music. It also tries to cover too long a time span, and has too many undeveloped peripheral characters. It over-simplifies the influences and developments in Charles' life and music with too-frequent revelatory flashbacks that tie his reactions and each of his songs to particular revelations and turning points. But there are many moments of great power as Charles says he must be paid in singles so he cannot be cheated and insists on owning his own music instead of letting the studio control it. He breaks through musical barriers that separate R&B from country and societal barriers that allow a black man to perform in segregated venues. And every time he plays and sings, it is pure magic.
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That Ray Charles Robinson, as portrayed in Ray, was a musical genius is never in question. Yet his greater genius rests in overcoming society's and his own psychological handicapping impediments. Born to an unwed, uneducated mother, Ray survived hardscrabble 1940s southern poverty. Due to his mother's insistence that her illiteracy and social status would not condemn them to subservience, Ray was toughened for the struggles ahead.
The film illustrates five formative childhood events. First, Ray witnesses his mother confronting an unethical employer, who summarily fires Ms. Robinson. As they march home barefooted on a dusty, rut-filled road, Ray's mother says, "Scratch a lie, catch a thief," a truism Ray remembers later when he dismisses a manager for embezzling his earnings. Second, Ray's mother admonishes him, "Don't never let no one take advantage of you cuz you don't got no education." Later we see Ray attending school due to his mother's determination to help him escape her plight.
A third incident haunting Ray for decades was the tragic drowning of his younger brother. The disturbing image of small hands and feet flailing against the water's death grip appears to Ray again and again. Without being explicit, the film implies that Ray's handicapping drug abuse emanates from his psychological distress over having done nothing to save Georgie.
A fourth brief but important vignette shows Ray being mentored by a backstreet long-fingered black musician composing the blues. From him, Ray first learns how to coax improvised riffs from the piano that will become part of his musical repertoire.
The final telling childhood episode, for which Ray is best known, depicts his insidious, undiagnosed loss of vision, leaving him able to see only faint shadows. Again, his frail but feisty mother imbues him with the will to surmount this obstacle: "You promise me, Ray, don't let nobody ever make you no cripple." Bravely sending her sole surviving son away to a school for the blind, Ray's mother helps him succeed in a handicapping, often heartless world insensitive to "cripples."
As a young man, Ray makes his debut at a mediocre club in Los Angeles run by a monetarily and sexually voracious woman who insists on becoming Ray's manager. The film follows Ray's bus tours with a group to play in small "colored only" dives. These endless, meaningless gigs with musicians already addicted to drug-induced euphoria, coupled with Ray's terrifying flashbacks of Georgie's drowning, lead Ray to start using heroin. Despite marrying the love of his life and shrewdly negotiating record deals "better than Sinatra," Ray continues his drug-addicted decline. According to the movie, in fact, more than suffering racial discrimination, more than people's attempts to exploit him because he was blind, the most handicapping experience of Ray's life was self imposed: the seduction of the needle.
Ray is to be applauded for his (albeit belated) challenge to "whites only" southern concerts. One day in Atlanta, as he is escorted past black protesters not allowed to buy tickets to his performance, Ray recognizes that by going along with apartheid, he was contributing to it. Never again playing for whites-only venues, Ray helps dismantle an ingrained, handicapping Jim Crow system and advances the struggle to achieve equality.
Finally, too, and as reluctantly, Ray confronts his drug abuse and, in brief but grim scenes, fights the demons cold turkey. The biopic implies that only by receiving absolution for Georgie's death from a psychiatrist is Ray finally able to beat his worst disability: drug addiction.
While musically enthralling, the movie Ray, like the man himself, is nonetheless seriously flawed. Ray, the man, was a womanizer, a drug user, and more fueled by ambition than loyalty to friends. Ray, the movie, Hollywoodizes the story. While conceding many of its subject's shortcomings, the film focuses far more on rationalizing Ray's actions rather than fully acknowledging that Ray's controlling and sometimes cruel behaviors were choices he made to achieve his goals. The movie reduces the countless mistresses--and sometimes fathered children--left behind in his wake down to two. In both cases, the women are portrayed as seductresses hoping to barter Ray's fame into careers of their own.
Perhaps the worst criticism for the film, however, is the sudden and abrupt condensation of the last half of Ray's life into a two-minute voice over with words on the screen heralding Ray's nonstop performances without the crutch of drugs until his death. As a gerontologist, this reviewer reproves such a clumsy ending that reinforces the belief that aging is such a serious handicapping condition, it is unworthy even of film time.
Despite these criticisms, Ray stands as a tribute to a man who prevailed in spite of vision loss, racism, and drug addiction in the meanest of mean streets, the music industry. For that, the soundtrack, and Jamie Foxx's Academy-Awarded portrayal, the film is worth a look.
2004 biographical film directed by Taylor Hackford
Ray is a 2004 American biographicalmusical drama film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles. The independently produced film was co-produced and directed by Taylor Hackford, and written by James L. White from a story by Hackford and White. It stars Jamie Foxx in the title role, along with Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, Harry Lennix, Terrence Howard, Larenz Tate, Richard Schiff and Regina King in supporting roles. Along with Hackford, the film was also produced by Stuart Benjamin, Howard Baldwin and Karen Baldwin.
It was released on October 29, 2004, by Universal Pictures. It received positive reviews from critics, with particular praise for Foxx's performance. It was also a commercial success, grossing $124.7 million worldwide against a production budget of $40 million.
Ray received many accolades and nominations and was nominated twice at the 77th Academy Awards. For his performance, Foxx won the Academy Award for Best Actor as well as the Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, and Critics' Choice, becoming the second actor to win all five major lead actor awards for the same performance, and the only one to win the Golden Globe in the Musical or Comedy category, rather than in Drama.
Charles had planned to attend a screening of the completed film but died of liver disease in June 2004, months prior to the premiere.
Ray Charles Robinson (Jamie Foxx) is raised by his independent single mother, Aretha Robinson (Sharon Warren) in poverty, but he manages to find solace in music, eventually learning to play the piano. As Ray plays with his younger brother George one day, George slips into their mother's full washbasin and drowns. Ray feels immense guilt over his brother's death, and begins to develop vision problems soon afterward. By age seven, he has become completely blind. Aretha teaches him to be independent despite his condition and eventually, she sends Ray to a school for the deaf and blind.
In 1948, Ray travels to Seattle, Washington where he uses his piano skills to get a job playing for a nightclub band. The club's owner (Denise Dowse) soon begins to exploit Ray, demanding sexual favors and controlling his money and career. After discovering that he is being lied to and stolen from, Ray quits from the band in disgust. In 1950, Ray joins a white country band who make him wear sunglasses to hide his damaged eyes from audiences. As they go on tour, Ray is introduced to heroin, and also suffers traumatic to his childhood.
As Ray continues to travel and gain fame with his music, he is discovered by Ahmet Ertegun (Curtis Armstrong) of Atlantic Records. Ray performs Ertegun’s song, "Mess Around", and becomes his first hit.
Ray ends up meeting Della Bea (Kerry Washington), a preacher's daughter. He falls in love with her, and the two get married. Della is unhappy about Ray mixing gospel with his music, but acknowledges his talent.
Ray continues to gain fame with his songs "I Got a Woman" and "Hallelujah I Love Her So", and meets up with Mary Anne Fisher (Aunjanue Ellis), a singer. On a trip home, Della finds Ray's drug kit in his shaving bag, and demands he stop. Ray refuses, and walks out on a pregnant Della before beginning an affair with Mary Anne. As Ray's popularity grows, Ray hires a girl trio to become "The Raylettes", and immediately falls for Margie (Regina King), the lead singer. When the two begin an affair, a jealous Mary Anne leaves him to start a solo career.
A few years later, Ray's band finishes early while doing a set. The owner of the club demands Ray fill the 20-minute slot he has left, and Ray performs "What'd I Say" on the spot. During the 1960s, Ray becomes more and more popular, and he moves his family to Los Angeles before signing a better contract with ABC Records. A year later, Ray continues to experiment with his music, and incorporates classical and country into his sound, writing hits such as "Georgia on My Mind". Ray also records "I Can't Stop Loving You", for which he receives a standing ovation at a concert.
Later, Margie gets sick while they rest in their hotel room. They discover that she is pregnant, and she demands that Ray leave Della and his children; he refuses, angering her. Ray then writes "Hit the Road Jack" which has a solo by Margie's. With her newfound recognition, Margie leaves the Raylettes to embark on a solo career.
In 1961, Ray goes to Augusta, Georgia, to play a concert, and encounters civil rights protests. Ray supports the protests by saying that he will not play if the black concertgoers have to sit in the balcony, and cancels the concert when those in charge refuse his demands; he later ends up being barred from playing in the state of Georgia. Later, Ray's hotel room is raided by the police, who claim that they are acting on an anonymous tip that he has drugs in the room. Although heroin is found and Ray is charged with possession, he gets off on a legal technicality because the police did not have a search warrant. During a gathering, Ray is informed that Margie has died from a drug overdose.
Ray and Della later move into a new house in Beverly Hills with their children, but Della is uncomfortable in their new home. In 1965, Ray is arrested for possession of heroin following a concert in Canada. His record company has trouble getting him out of his legal issues, and a judge sentences Ray to go to a rehabilitation clinic. Della and Ray argue about the sentencing, and he tries to justify his addiction using his past traumas, but Della dismisses his excuses and warns him that he is ultimately going to lose his music should he continue. Guilty, Ray checks into to the clinic, where he suffers from withdrawal and vivid nightmares. One evening, Ray has a conversation with his dead mother, who praises him for becoming strong and successful, but chastises him for letting his addictions cripple him. His brother George also appears, telling Ray that he doesn't blame him for his death. Reformed, Ray promises to kick his habit and never be crippled by anything again.
By 1979, Ray has permanently quit heroin and receives his proudest accomplishment: the state of Georgia officially apologizes to him and makes "Georgia On My Mind" the official state song. Ray, Della, and their three grown sons are applauded as Ray performs the song before a live audience.
In the epilogue, Ray continues to have a long and successful career and legacy before dying of liver failure in 2004.
The film's production was entirely financed by Philip Anschutz, through his Bristol Bay Productions company. Taylor Hackford said in a DVD bonus feature that it took 15 years to make the film; or more specifically, as he later clarified in the liner notes of the soundtrack album, this is how long it took him to secure the financing. It was made on a budget of $40 million.
Charles was given a Braille copy of the film's original script; he objected only to a scene showing him taking up piano grudgingly, and a scene implying that Charles had shown mistress and lead "Raelette" Margie Hendricks how to shoot heroin.
As stated in the DVD commentary, Foxx does not sing as Charles with exception to cover versions Charles performs in his earlier years. Kanye West and Ludacris have since made songs with Foxx singing as Charles in their songs "Gold Digger" and "Georgia", respectively. Also stated in the commentary, Hackford stated that no studio was interested in backing the movie. After it was shot independently, Universal Pictures stepped in to distribute it. Part of the reason Universal Pictures released it was because one of its executives used to hitchhike to Ray Charles concerts.
Ray debuted at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. Denzel Washington was offered to play the title role, but he passed on the project.
Hackford also stated in the audio commentary for the film on DVD that Anschutz said the film would be made, but he demanded it that it would PG-13 and this caused him to walk away from the film five times, but because of Charles and Ahmet Ertegun asking him to make the movie, he later agreed to do the film as a PG-13 rating. The film was later then rated PG-13 for "depiction of drug addiction, sexuality and some thematic elements". The film's score was composed by Craig Armstrong.
Main article: Ray (soundtrack)
Ray was released in theaters on October 29, 2004. The film went on to become a box-office hit, earning $75 million in the U.S. with an additional $50 million internationally, bringing its worldwide gross to $125 million.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 80% based on 206 reviews, with an average rating of 7.30/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "An engrossing and energetic portrait of a great musician's achievements and foibles, Ray is anchored by Jamie Foxx's stunning performance as Ray Charles." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a rare "A+" grade.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "The movie would be worth seeing simply for the sound of the music and the sight of Jamie Foxx performing it. That it looks deeper and gives us a sense of the man himself is what makes it special." Ebert gave it a full 4 out of 4 stars.Richard Corliss of Time praised the cast, saying "If there were an Oscar for ensemble acting, Ray would win in a stroll." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote: "Jamie Foxx gets so far inside the man and his music that he and Ray Charles seem to breathe as one."
According to music critic Robert Christgau, "Foxx does the impossible—radiates something approaching the charisma of the artist he's portraying... that's the only time an actor has ever brought a pop icon fully to life on-screen."
Main article: List of accolades received by Ray (film)
In the wake of his performance as Charles in the film, Foxx featured on hip-hop songs that sampled Charles' songs:
Differences from noted events
The film's credits state that Ray is based on true events, but includes some characters, names, locations, and events which have been changed and others which have been "fictionalized for dramatization purposes." Examples of the fictionalized scenes include:
- The film's portrayal of Charles' brother George's death in 1935 shows him drowning in a metal tub after Ray doesn't attempt to rescue him because he assumes he is just playing; Ray's mother then discovers George drowning when calling the boys in for dinner. Though George did drown in a metal tub, Ray did try to pull him out, but was unable to do so due to George's large body weight; Ray then ran inside to tell his mother what happened.
- Throughout the film, it is suggested that Ray's depression and heroin addiction were fueled by nervous breakdowns he had over the deaths of both George and his mother, as well as his blindness. In reality, the death of his mother did give him a nervous breakdown and was thought to be a leading cause of his depression, but the death of George and his blindness did not lead to nervous breakdowns.
- It is true that Charles kicked his heroin addiction after undergoing treatment in a psychiatric hospital during 1965, as stated towards the end of the film, but it is not mentioned that he would often use gin and marijuana as substitutes for heroin throughout much of the remaining years of his life.
- In the scene in which "What'd I Say" is being played, Charles is depicted as playing a Fender Rhodes electric piano, but in reality, he used a Wurlitzer electric piano on the original recording and began using it on tour in 1956, because he didn't trust the tuning and quality of the pianos provided to him at every venue.
- In the film, when his backing singer and mistress Margie Hendricks informs Ray she is pregnant with his child, Ray suggests she should have an abortion, out of loyalty to Della; Margie decides to keep the baby and soon leaves Ray to pursue a separate singing career after he refuses to abandon his family, move in with her and welcome the baby into his life. In reality, Hendricks did conceive a child with Charles and abandoned him after he refused to leave Della, but Charles never asked her to have an abortion, and welcomed any child he conceived, whether from Della or any mistress, into his personal life.
- In the film Margie leaves the Raelettes in 1961, but in reality she was fired from the group by Ray in 1964 after a heated argument.
- In the scene in which Charles is about to enter a segregated music hall in Augusta, Georgia, in 1961, a group of civil rights activists protesting just outside the hall successfully persuade him not to perform; Charles then declares that he will no longer perform in segregated public facilities and in response, the Georgia state legislature passes a resolution banning Charles from ever performing again in the state. In reality, a group of civil rights activists did successfully persuade Charles to reject this invitation, but the advice came in the form of a telegram rather than a street protest; Charles also did make up for the gig later, and was never banned from performing in Georgia and still accepted invitations to perform at segregated public facilities.
- In the film, Margie Hendricks dies in 1965. However in reality she died on July 14, 1973 but, no official cause of death was determined because an autopsy was not performed.
- During the final scene in the film, when Charles' version of "Georgia on My Mind" becomes Georgia's state song, Charles is congratulated by his wife Della, and a resolution is also passed to lift the lifetime ban he had received in 1961 after he declared he would no longer perform at segregated public facilities. In reality, by the time "Georgia on My Mind" became Georgia's state song in 1979, Charles and Della had already divorced, so she wasn't present when Charles performed at the Georgia State Legislature; and since he had never been banned from performing in Georgia in the first place, no such resolution was ever passed.
- ^ abc"Ray (2004)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
- ^Director Taylor Hackford noted this focus on the years 1935–1965 in his DVD commentary for the film; the only exception to this focus is the film's final scene featuring Julian Bond and set in the Georgia State Capitol in 1979, a scene Hackford included at Charles' specific request.
- ^ ab"Music legend Ray Charles dies at 73". Associated Press. October 10, 2004. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
- ^ abRay (2004) - IMDb, retrieved 2021-03-21
- ^"Ray (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2020-09-19.
- ^"Ray". Metacritic. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
- ^Pamela McClintock (2011-08-11). "Why CinemaScore Matters for Box Office". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
- ^Ebert, Roger (October 28, 2004). "Ray movie review & film summary (2004)". Chicago Sun-Times.
- ^Corliss, Richard (12 October 2004). "A Ray of Light on a Blue Genius". Time.
- ^Travers, Peter (20 October 2004). "Ray". Rolling Stone.
- ^Christgau, Robert (July 5, 2005). "All This Useless Beauty". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- ^ ab"Charles, Ray (1930–2004) – HistoryLink.org". historylink.org.
- ^ abcRitz, David (22 October 2004). "It's a Shame About Ray" – via Slate.
- ^ abcdef"History in the Movies". stfrancis.edu.
- ^Evans, p. 109.
- ^"A Lover's Blues: The Unforgettable Voice of Margie Hendrix". Longreads. 2020-09-02. Retrieved 2021-05-16.
- ^John Clemente, Girl Groups: Fabulous Females Who Rocked the World, AuthorHouse, 2013 , p.133
Soul man: Jamie Foxx is Ray Charles
If he had already been blind, he could not have blamed himself for the death and would not have carried the lifelong guilt that, the movie argues, contributed to his eventual drug addiction. Would he also then have not been driven to become the consummate artist that he was? Who can say? For that matter, what role did blindness play in his genius? Did it make him so alive to sound that he became a better musician? Certainly he was so attuned to the world around him that he never used a cane or a dog; for Charles blindness was more of an attribute than a handicap.
Jamie Foxx suggests the complexities of Ray Charles in a great, exuberant performance. He doesn't do the singing -- that's all Ray Charles on the soundtrack -- but what would be the point? Ray Charles was deeply involved in the project for years, until his death in June, and the film had access to his recordings, so of course it should use them, because nobody else could sing like Ray Charles.
What Foxx gets just right is the physical Ray Charles, and what an extrovert he was. Not for Ray the hesitant blind man of cliche feeling his way, afraid of the wrong step. In the movie and in life, he was adamantly present in body as well as spirit, filling a room, physically dominant, interlaced with other people. Yes, he was eccentric in his mannerisms, especially at the keyboard; I can imagine a performance in which Ray Charles would come across like a manic clown. But Foxx correctly interprets the musician's body language as a kind of choreography, in which he was conducting his music with himself, instead of with a baton. Foxx so accurately reflects my own images and memories of Charles that I abandoned thoughts of how much "like" Charles he was and just accepted him as Charles, and got on with the story.
The movie places Charles at the center of key movements in postwar music. After an early career in which he seemed to aspire to sound like Nat "King" Cole, he loosened up, found himself, and discovered a fusion between the gospel music of his childhood and the rhythm & blues of his teen years and his first professional gigs. The result was, essentially, the invention of soul music, in early songs like "I Got a Woman."
The movie shows him finding that sound in Seattle, his improbable destination after he leaves his native Georgia. Before and later, it returns for key scenes involving his mother Aretha (Sharon Warren), who taught him not to be intimidated by his blindness, to dream big, to demand the best for himself. She had no education and little money, but insisted that he attend the school for the blind, which set him on his way. He heads for Seattle after hearing about the club scene, but why there and not in New York, Kansas City, Chicago or New Orleans? Certainly his meeting with the Seattle teenager Quincy Jones was one of the crucial events in his life (as was his friendship with the dwarf emcee Oberon, played by Warwick Davis, who turns him on to pot).
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Ray | Full Movie | Movies Anywhere
Parents need to know that this movie has very strong material for a PG-13; it's more like a PG-16. There are frequent sexual references and situations (non-explicit), as Charles has relationships with many, many women, even after he's married. One of the women becomes pregnant. Characters drink, smoke (constantly) and take drugs, including marijuana and heroin. A character OD's (off-camera), and there is a harrowing scene of detoxing after Charles decides to end his 20-year heroin habit. Characters use very strong language. A child is killed and another loses his sight. A strength of the movie is its frank coverage of the pre-Civil Rights era, where the "Chitlin' Circuit" was the (almost) all-black venues where black performers were booked. In one understated scene, it makes clear that no restaurants would allow black customers, so they had to make arrangements at the homes of black people along the way. In another scene, Charles refuses to perform in a facility that does not allow black customers and is sued by the promoter and banned from the state of Georgia as a result.