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Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

So this is a straight-up documentary? I like it — most documentaries suck, but this is not the normal TV kind of documentary, with sound-bites from a bunch of talking heads. Instead it’s longer takes, with people just talking normally to each other (and not to the camera).

And then music and perfomances, and again, longer takes. I love that.

I’ve seen Grace Jones only twice — last time last year, and she was awesome! She gave it all; she was funny; she totally had her voice still; and it was a bit scary.

Oh! This movie from 2017, so I thought it was about er stuff from 2017. But it’s about the recording of the Hurricane album, which was released in 2008. Did this movie languish for a decade before it was released?

We’re getting complete songs from the album, live. I love that. This movie doesn’t even make any pretence towards catering to an audience that aren’t already hypnotised by Grace Jones — there’s no contextualisation, no recap of her life; we’re just dropped into the recording of the album and the press she’s doing and her visiting her family.

Yum yum yum

I admire the insistence of not giving any context — no voiceovers, no explanatory texts — but it leaves some of the drama totally mystifying.

You just imagine Grace Jones flying around with a full crew of people taking care of everything. Instead she’s doing her own makeup, she’s shucking the oysters herself, and she’s taking care of business herself. She’s such a nerd!

I love this film. But it’s so bewildering! I didn’t know you were allowed to make films like this any more! Perhaps you aren’t? Is that why it took that long to release this film? I don’t think I’ve seen a documentary made during the last five decades that’s this obsessed with not explaining what it’s about; that’s withholding this much information. (Even documentaries that try to hide the film crew ask leading questions like “tell us where you are” and then just edit it so that the response seems natural, but nope.) So on one hand, I love watching this, but on the other hand, I can barely stop my fingers from trying to google what’s going on here.


The documentary is fascinating and enjoyable but it still only gives us half a picture of its subject. Again and again, we clamour for more information. You’ll need to go elsewhere to get hold of any of the everyday details about Jones, her life, career and many collaborators.

But it’s great; I could have watched four more hours of this.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. Sophie Fiennes. 2017.

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