The other day, taking a break from my forthcoming book Apocalypse Forever: How Overwrought Book Titles Are Destroying America, I went to see Ray. I strongly recommend it, insofar as my suspect taste in movies can be trusted. (I happen to love all those bloated blockbusters my film-crit counterparts tear their hair out over.) Yes, Ray does have conventional biopic elements, particularly in the latter pop-star-bottoming-out parts, but Jamie Foxx’s reincarnation of the late great Mr. Charles is everything it’s cracked up to be. Over and beyond the emotional power of the performance, it’s one of the most technically convincing portraits of a musician ever put on film. Foxx, as you wouldn’t necessarily guess from his turn in Booty Call, studied piano from the age of three and attended the International University at San Diego on a music scholarship. He has a natural authority at the piano that can’t be faked. So often you see movie actors flailing meaninglessly around a keyboard. Foxx bends not only with the rhythms but with the chords: you could tell with the sound turned off where the tonic is and where the dominant is. Even the way he stands around the instrument, acquiring social confidence as he reaches toward the keys, is true to life. I hope Foxx one day plays a classical pianist on film. After all the insulting caricatures of classical musicians that Hollywood has perpetrated over the years, it would be great to see a movie about music made with knowledge and love.