Sophie Fiennes here provides something feeling far different than a typical music documentary. The two hours you spend almost exclusively with Miss Jones functions like a mega-backstage-pass: you get to enjoy the concert, a meet-and-greet, a few days of one-on-one, and several meals with her family in Jamaica. If that degree of access doesn't mark this as a documentary like few others, then the razor-sharp artistry with which it is put together should seal the deal. Any viewer interested in celebrity, pop music, or the creative personality will love it. Fans of Miss Jones will be blown away. Highly Recommended.
This is the 21st Century, so you youngsters will be forgiven if you don't know who Grace Jones is. Disco diva from the '70s, cult star, reggae machine, actress (Conan the Destroyer) and androgynous icon. Grace Jones is a kind of singularity; husky-voiced and impossible, and (at least to me) unknowable; the robotic 6-foot cypher of 'Warm Leatherette' and something entirely other in her private life. Until now, that is, as director Fiennes cameras follow the persona from the stage in NYC, into the shower of the Presidential Suite, and on to her mother's humble kitchen table in Jamaica. Not necessarily in that order.
It can be a tad disconcerting to start from concert footage ('Slave to the Rhythm') and then straight on to Jones eating fish-heads with her family, but that's the way Fiennes puts things together. Other notable documentary tropes also get left by the wayside. No sit-down interviews with compatriots, no archival footage, and not much in the way of summation, either. Instead, after a performance that has the formidable singer looking fantastic into her 60s, artful intersections (concert patter laid over footage of Jones swimming in a river sans make-up, or vocal exercises backing footage of a sunset) create a stream-of-consciousness flow not unlike the creative process itself. This is most stunningly seen as a Jones song comes to light through interconnected footage of Jones fighting for studio time, all the way through to performance of the song on stage.
Jones and Fiennes have no fear, and Jones seems very real throughout. She's not afraid of her life, visiting shacks of old family friends, standing naked in the shower, yelling at subordinates when she finds her hotel hasn't been comped. All of this is here for you: the full Grace Jones experience, crafted from the real, to the super-real, to inconsequential observations, wrapped up in superior artifice like one of Jones' outlandish hats, like one of her angry, stentorian, sensuous performances, everything left on the floor for you, past, present, and future. Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami is Highly Recommended.