The Couch Potato Report – February 1st, 2005
In The Couch Potato Report this week, the legend, the man, the movie, RAY!
Oh, and there are two other films too.
In 1980 I went to see a movie called THE BLUES BROTHERS because it co-starred Carrie Fisher from STAR WARS and John Candy of SCTV fame.
I had no idea that The Blues Brothers – as played by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi – were popular characters from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, I went to hear Candy’s classic line from the trailer (“We’re in a truck”) and because, like most young men of that time, I had a crush on Carrie Fisher.
In addition to Candy and the eye candy the movie was also full of some great musicians. Aretha Franklin! Cab Calloway! And Ray Charles!
I was unaware of who Aykroyd and Belushi were and I also didn’t know who any of those singers were.
Yet when I went in to a record store not long after seeing the movie I bought the soundtrack album to THE BLUES BROTHERS because I wanted to hear the music again.
Over the years I have watched the movie a few dozen times, but I have listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times.
The movie served as my introduction to Ray Charles. I didn’t know him then, but I know him now.
That fact that I know him, admire him, and love his music is what scared me when I sat down to watch RAY, the Hollywood film about Ray Charles life.
Even though the film’s director – Taylor Hackford – had produced the great film LA BAMBA about the life of Richie Valens, and he had entertained me with his movies AGAINST ALL ODDS and WHITE NIGHTS, he was also the director who bored me with his recent films PROOF OF LIFE and THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE.
So that made me nervous.
Then there was Jamie Foxx, the man given the task of portraying the musical legend.
Foxx had delivered great dramatic turns in ALI, COLLATERAL and ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, but I primarily knew him as a comedian from the TV show IN LIVING COLOUR.
As I sit here right now, I am pleased to tell you that all of my fears were unfounded!
Both Hackford and Foxx highly deserve the Academy Award nominations they received for their work in RAY.
The movie RAY is a warts-and-all look at the man, the musician and the businessman who was Ray Charles.
RAY does celebrate Ray Charles, but it doesn’t shy away from his heroin addiction and frequent infidelities. It also doesn’t waver in it’s goal to detail the hostility that Brother Ray suffered due to the racism of 1950s and ’60s in America.
RAY would have been a great film to see due to the man at it’s core, but one other reason to watch it is so you can bear witness to the amazing performance of Jamie Foxx in the title role.
For once, all of the hype you are hearing about a performance is completely justified.
Foxx is absolutely amazing in the picture!
Wow! I’ve been praising RAY for a few minutes already, and I haven’t even mentioned the music yet!
Hearing “I Got a Woman,” “What’d I Say,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Unchain My Heart” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” helped remind me why a movie about Ray Charles was a movie worth making and worth seeing in the first place.
The man had an unprecedented 50-year career, and when we lost him last year, we lost a powerful musician, and a great man.
It was my pleasure to watch it RAY, and I take pride in admitting to you that RAY is a fitting eulogy to a great man.
A man I discovered, when I went to laugh at John Candy and stare at Carrie Fisher.
Thanks for everything, Brother Ray!
I don’t have any thanks to give to THE GRUDGE, our next new release this week.
As THE RING was in 2002, THE GRUDE is another Hollywood remake of a successful Japanese horror film. Unlike THE RING, THE GRUDGE won’t duplicate the success of the original on this side of the world.
The film is set in Tokyo, where there is an house that looks ordinary enough, but something bad once happened there.
Unaware of the house’s issues, people continue to enter, visit and live in the house. Invariably, they end up on the bad end of the house’s “grudge.”
Sarah Michelle Gellar from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER plays a social worker in this film, but she really isn’t given much to do so her work doesn’t really add up to much.
In the end THE GRUDGE is just a haunted house film that is full of horror movie clichÈs.
A cat jumps out at you, weird sounds abound, people go where they shouldn’t, and there are more than a few “make you jump” moments.
If you are looking for a very entertaining Hollywood version of a Japanese horror film, just watch THE RING, in fact, the original version of THE RING is much better than the original version of THE GRUDGE as well.
For the record, THE RING TWO will open in theaters at the end of March.
Also at the end of March, major league baseball players will be at training camp getting ready for the 2005 Major League Baseball Season!
In fact, we are less than two weeks away from the opening of Spring Training!!
If you are like me, and you need a baseball fix now, our final new release this week should appease you.
Bernie Mac is the man known as MR. 3000 in the movie of the same name.
Mac plays an unlikable baseball star who is forced to come out of retirement at the age of forty-seven to get three hits in order to get in to the Hall Of Fame.
As he attempts to correct his record, his selfish past returns to haunt him, along with a former flame.
MR. 3000 isn’t your basic, 100% predictable sports movie, but it isn’t far off.
I liked it, but I wasn’t expecting much.
RAY, THE GRUDGE and MR. 3000 are now available at your favourite local video store.
COMING UP IN THE NEXT COUCH POTATO REPORT
The animated film SHARK TALE features Will Smith playing a young fish who lies about killing a shark to become a celebrity. Renee Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese also lend their voices to this very entertaining film.
DeNiro and Scorsese didn’t just lend their voices to the film RAGING BULL, they gave everything that had to this classic 1980 film. The 2 disc DVD set RAGING BULL – SPECIAL EDITION features a look at what they did, and more.
The three disc box set of MIAMI VICE – SEASON ONE includes all 22 episodes from the 1984-85 season, plus the two-hour pilot; a series introduction by creator Michael Mann and a wealth of features including the series’ back story and a look at the music that was included in the show.
If you love TV on DVD, next week will also see the release of THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON and FULL HOUSE – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON.
Our final new release next week is THE NOTEBOOK. In this touching love story a young couple in love is forced apart by World War II. Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gena Rowlands and James Garner star.
I’m Dan Reynish and I’ll have more on THE NOTEBOOK, MIAMI VICE, RAGING BULL, and those other new releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next week on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – February 1st, 2005