Grace Jones on a Lifetime of Doing Whatever She Pleases

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Melena Ryzik (The New York Times) reviews Sophie Fiennes’s documentary Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, which “showcases the 69-year-old music and fashion icon at her most fierce and most vulnerable.” Here are excerpts (read full article and interview with Jones at The New York Times):

Grace Jones was sitting in an opulent hotel suite in Paris, naked underneath a fur coat, opining about her act. “The performer, out there, takes a risk,” she said, sipping Champagne. “It’s a lonely place. But it’s a fascinating, lonely place.” That’s a signature moment from “Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami,” a documentary that traces nearly five years in the life of the singular vocalist, unparalleled stage goddess, fashion renegade and general paragon of the fabulous life, who will be 70 in May.

This is also Grace Jones: “I look like a bug from outer space.” At that particular moment she was wearing a black headpiece that covered her eyes and extended behind her like an exoskeleton. Alongside her gift for one-liners, Ms. Jones’s extraordinary collection of chapeaux — “I have a nice hat head,” she said demurely in a phone interview last month — is on display in the film, which opens April 13.

Directed by Sophie Fiennes, it tracks Ms. Jones starting in 2005 as she records an album, gigs around the world and, most revealingly, visits family in her native Jamaica, where she and her clan discuss their strictly religious upbringing and the violence of her stepgrandfather, known as Mas P. (“Bloodlight” is Jamaican musician slang for the red light of a recording studio, and bami is a local flatbread.) Even on modest family outings, she rocks notable headgear.

“The stage Grace, it’s not a facade, it’s not a fake — it’s a manifestation,” said Ms. Fiennes, a British filmmaker and sister of the actors Ralph and Joseph, who has also made films about the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek and the painter Anselm Kiefer.

“Grace is always living the limitless possibilities of being — the possibilities of every moment, that you could live it more extremely,” Ms. Fiennes said, adding, “I always remember when she saw the film, she stood up and said, ‘I love the smell of your film.’” Ms. Jones also taught her how to hula-hoop.

Since the cameras stopped rolling, her career has had a reboot: she’s headlined major festivals like Afropunk in Brooklynreleased a best-selling memoir and seen her iconic styles revived. She’s even name-dropped in “Black Panther,” whose Dora Milaje fighters have a bit of her aesthetic. “People always said I’m ahead of my time, but how far ahead of my time? Am I just arriving right now?” she said, laughing. “I don’t want to sound like a crazy ex-acid tripper,” but “it does all seem to come together in a very cosmic way.” [. . .]

For full article and edited excerpts from the conversation between Ryzik and Jones, see https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/05/arts/music/grace-jones-bloodlight-and-bami-documentary.html

Also see previous post https://repeatingislands.com/2017/09/03/new-film-grace-jones-bloodlight-and-bami/

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