Singer Grace Jones Puts Her Remarkable Talent on Display in New Documentary Film

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, the new documentary about the talented singer, actress and model, begins with a lively concert clip that finds Jones crooning “I’m a slave to the rhythm” while wearing an elaborate golden mask and a black leotard. Afterward, she meets and greets her adoring fans and graciously signs as many autographs as she can. It's a great way to start the movie, which shows just what a compelling performer and persona Jones is.

Director Sophie Fiennes, who started filming Jones in the mid-2000s, simply follows her on stage and off as she strives to capture her life without any narration or voice over.

We see Jones negotiate with the talented production duo Sly and Robbie, telling them that they need to set a date for recording with her. We see her in her native Jamaica as she jokes with family members and listens to various beats while driving through the countryside. And we see her yell at a tour manager who hasn't properly booked the hotel rooms for a tour.

Ultimately, the movie creates a striking portrait of the artist, who, at one point, describes herself as "a gypsy."

It shows at 9:30 tomorrow night and at 8:20 on Sunday night at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque.

As much as the behind-the-scenes clips provide some insight into Jones’ artistry, the live footage stands out.

In one clip, Jones waves a drumstick in the air like a madcap school teacher while strobes flicker and flash and her backing band lays down a ferociously funky groove. The kicker is that it somehow segues into a show stopping rendition of “Amazing Grace” that finds Jones performing with minimal accompaniment.

In another sequence, we see Jones singing in the studio and running through the song while she shucks oysters in her kitchen. We then see her performing the same tune on the stage while wearing a tight fitting sport coat and shades.

And for "Pull Up to the Bumper," she enthusiastically beckons the audience to get on its feet and dance. Shots of the balcony show that she had the entire crowd dancing to the tune.

Jones, who portrayed May Day in the Bond film A View to a Kill and the supermodel Strangé in the Eddie Murphy movie Boomerang, possesses an undeniable presence, something that comes through loud and clear in this fine film.

One reviewer of the movie refers to Jones as a “pinup gladiator,” and we heartily agree with that assessment. Jones is a remarkable talent, and this film does her justice.
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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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