Volume 74, Number 37 | January 19 -25, 2005

koch on film

By Ed Koch

“Ray” (+)

I am so pleased that I finally saw this film about Ray Charles which was released several months ago.  The story is inspirational and the acting superb.

Ray and his younger brother were raised by their mother, Aretha Robinson (Sharon Warren).  As a child, Ray suffered two tragedies:  witnessing the accidental death of his brother and the loss of his sight at the age of seven.  Throughout the movie he suffers flashbacks to his youth explaining his actions and reactions as an adult.  As a young man, he became a heroin addict. 

Ray’s surname was Robinson which he dropped at the suggestion of his first manager who said that the great boxer, Sugar Ray Robinson, had already locked up that name.  So Ray, the great musician, took his middle name Charles as his new surname.  He was married to the beautiful Della Bea Robinson (Kerry Washington), but he also had affairs with other women, one of whom was Margie Hendricks (Regina King), a member of his band.  He raised children from two families.  

Jamie Foxx is magnificent in his portrayal of Ray.  He flawlessly lip syncs Charles’ music and totally captures his rhythmic body movements. 

Any child trying to overcome major challenges in life would be inspired and helped by this movie portraying the intelligence, energy, courage and talent of Ray Charles.  His death last year affected millions of people who identified with him and his music.  I enjoyed his music enormously, and I learned from the movie that much of it was a combination of rhythm and blues with gospel.   

“The Incredibles” (+)
I had resisted attempts by others to get me to see this movie.   In my younger days, I enjoyed the cartoon that accompanied a film, but I have never wanted to see an animated film as the feature presentation.  To my horror, however, only three new films opened this week all of which appeared to be duds.  So I decided to see “The Incredibles,” a full-length, totally animated creation, since it had received a number of extraordinary reviews from critics I respect.  

It was surprisingly good, and even though it has been running for several weeks, it still draws a near full house.  Its special effects in a rare moment reminded me of the film “Fantasia,” that grandfather of creativity in animation, and it contains very funny, non-sexual, adult dialogue, 

The story involves a father, mother and three children.  Tension is created between superheroes who took mundane jobs in the private sector having been sidelined by society and the courts.  There is a bad guy who early on was a fan of the Incredibles.  Spurned by the father of the Incredibles, he embarks upon a plan to destroy all superheroes and take their place.  But good ultimately triumphs over evil.  Every Incredible family member is given an opportunity to show how terrific they are.  Feminism is a major part of the plot with mother Incredible and her daughter shown great respect by other members of the family.

The family members include the father, Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voice of Craig T. Nelson); the mother, Helen/Elastigirl (voice of Holly Hunter); the son, Dashiell (voice of Spencer Fox); the daughter, Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell); and the baby, Jack Jack (voice of Eli Fucile and Maeve Andrews). 

At the end of the movie I concluded that I preferred the nuttiness of animated cartoons to movies like “Spiderman” which use human figures instead of animation.  I also concluded that one animated presentation for reviewing purposes is enough for a lifetime.  So, while I don’t expect to see such a film again for a very long time, you might want to catch “The Incredibles,” if you are finding it difficult to select a movie in this arid season.

                                                                        - Ed Koch

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