I went out to see Ray last night at the cheap theaters in Fairfax City (god bless second-run theaters).
Overall it's a pretty good movie, with an obviously great soundtrack. His drug use is used as a driving force for the movie. His first smoke of pot, his first taste of heroin, and his checking into rehab to get clean create a pretty powerful rhythm and theme for the story. If the movie was fiction instead of about a celebrity the movie would have ended there, but it strangely jumps forward 15 years to his being allowed to play in Georgia again (he was banned from playing in state after refusing to play in front of a segregated audience) and then a set of captions quickly summing up the last years of his life. Unfortunately, any impact made on me by the scenes of struggle in rehab were quickly erased by the tacked-on ending. It is a pretty good movie compared to films about other music stars, though. Details of musical brilliance and how he managed as a blind man, particularly in his early days, are very well done.
Jamie Fox is pretty good in the role, but the one who actually blew me away was C.J. Sanders, the little boy who played Ray in all the flashback scenes. Seeing this kid react when his little brother drowned and then watching him go blind and learn how to move through life without sight was amazing. Perhaps he had a lot of guidance and help from the director, but if the small scenes in this movie are any indication the kid has a lot of talent.
The cheap theater is also running Napoleon Dynamite; depending on my mood I may try to catch that later this week.