RETRO REVIEW: Sophie Fiennes Pays Tribute to Fierce, No Holds Barred Rebel Grace Jones with her GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI Documentary, opening at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema April 27

Posted on: Apr 24th, 2018 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI (2017); Dir. Sophie Fiennes; Starring Grace Jones, Jean-Paul Goude, Sly & Robbie; Opens Friday, April 27 at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema; Trailer here.

Grace Jones has affectionately been dubbed an “iconic extraterrestrial” raising the bar of hardcore, rebellious femininity. Sophie Fiennes’ [THE PERVERT’S GUIDE TO IDEOLOGY (2012)/dir.; THE PERVERTS GUIDE TO CINEMA (2006)/dir.] portrayal of the larger-than life pop icon transports Jones back to earth, exposing the soft underbelly Jones’ audiences rarely get a chance to experience. Nearly five years in the making, Fiennes followed Jones during the recording of her 2008 album, HURRICANE and through her 2009 World Tour, giving audiences a small glimpse into the life of the legendary Ms. Jones in the first feature-length documentary dedicated solely to the pop music icon, also known for her roles in CYBER BANDITS (1995); A VIEW TO A KILL (1985); CONAN THE DESTROYER (1984) and more.

Throughout the film, Fiennes dynamically paints Jones’ story using bright reds, blues and greens, explaining that “Bloodlight” in Jones’ regional Jamaican dialect refers to the red light that illuminates when an artist is recording. The film opens on Jones belting out “Slave to the Rhythm” during her 2009 World Tour and then we’re transported back in time to Jamaica where she’s preparing to record HURRICANE. It’s during this trip that she reunites with family and friends and we are slowly acquainted with Jones’ childhood demons   which helped create the androgynous, gender-defying powerful presence we all know and adore, Grace Jones.

On stage, Jones is a GOD. She is a GODDESS. In fact, she’s both—a chameleon channeling the extremes of societal roles. Throughout the film we are given the chance to experience Jones’ dynamic live stage show with performances of her new wave/post-punk tune, “Pull Up to the Bumper,” originally released on her 1981 NIGHTCLUBBING album, and “Williams’ Blood,” released in 2008 as part of HURRICANE. In the short span of 115 minutes, Fiennes gently exposes Jones’ traumatic history while giving Jones the ability to enlighten her fans on how she became the icon we’ve all grown to admire.  Jones delves deep into her past, exposing the trauma she faced as a child perpetuated by her stepfather, Master Patrick (Mas. P). Jones details her transformation from real-life woman to domineering stage presence, stating, “I’m playing out Mas P. That’s why I’m scary. That’s the male dominant scary person I become.”

Jones was born in Jamaica and was transplanted to Syracuse, New York as a young teen. She rose to stardom having the gift to mesmerize crowds and soon became a muse to many artists and photographers, including photographer Jean-Paul Gaude, father of Jones’ son, Paulo Gaude. She wears many masks (literally and figuratively) in the entertainment industry, from singer/songwriter to record producer to supermodel to movie star. Fiennes touches on many of these aspects of Jones’ life throughout the film. We get a chance to unmask the artist as we delve further into her more domesticated roles as mother, grandmother, sister, lover, and friend, or what in Jones’ regional dialect is dubbed, “bami,” bread, the substance of daily life.

Fiennes hand-delivers an intimate portrait of a behind-the-scenes “real life” Jones, blended with her gargantuan, overtly experimental avant-garde, cutting-edge stage presence. Fittingly, Fiennes utilizes sharp cuts and fades as she ever so slowly reveals the tale of Jones’ childhood through the memories provided by Jones’ family and friends. GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI is a film well worth experiencing, especially for those who have a deep love for pop culture. If you are hungry for brutally amazing strong female leads, Fiennes’ documentary is exactly what you need. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian brilliantly says of Fiennes’ film, “It’s a reminder that films about female singing stars need not be gallant tributes to tragically doomed fragility.”

Grace Jones is anything but fragile, and if there ever was a glass ceiling holding her back, you can rest assured that she smashed it to unrecognizable bits with poise and grace, as she so delicately puts it, “Sometimes you have to be a high flying bitch.”

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Deja Vu Discotheque Takes Atlantans Back into the Limelight

Posted on: Aug 5th, 2011 By:

Dancing the night away inside The Limelight.

Ask anyone who lived in Atlanta in the late 1970s or ’80s what was the city’s most notorious dance club, and they’d tell you The Limelight. Like New York’s Studio 54, it was where you dressed your most outrageous to see and be seen, that is, if the door staff deigned to allow you in. Sharks swam and tigers stalked under the dance-floor for a while. And its fame stretched far beyond Atlanta, attracting Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger and more. Located in the heart of Buckhead, it’s the reason Atlantans always will call that Kroger on Piedmont the “Disco Kroger.”

This Saturday night, some of the Limelight’s original DJs, set designers and club attendees are hoping to recapture the glittery over-the-top excitement with Deja Vu Discotheque, a one-night reunion dance party at Center Stage. The event not only promises the same over-the-top interior design and light show but also features original Limelight DJs Randy Easterling, Noel Aquirre and Aron Siegel, as well as Atlanta icon, DJ Lydia

From a Limelight brochure.

Prim and live performances by Pamela Stanley singing her ’80s hit singles such as “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” and “If Looks Could Kill.” Attendees will also get a sneak peek at the trailer for LIMELIGHT, a documentary about club founder Peter Gatien, a one-eyed Canadian entrepreneur who also created upscale discos in Miami and another incarnation of Limelight in New York. A silent auction benefits the Starlight Children’s Foundation of Georgia

To get you in the mood for some serious disco dancing, ATLRetro asked a few folks who experienced the original Limelight to share a few memories:

Scott Cloud: For those who weren’t lucky enough to experience Limelight, it is difficult to find the words to describe the magical spell that was cast over Atlanta’s nightlife. First off, there was never the guarantee you would make it past the throngs of hopefuls, waiting outside Limelight’s gilded doors. If you were one of the Chosen Ones, you would soon realize those weren’t ordinary doors you were being escorted through. They were actually portals that transported you into an alternate reality and universe constructed of glitter, glamour and a whole lot of creative energy.

When the sharks weren't swimming at Limelight, mermaids did. Photo credit: Arthur Usherson.

Everyone was a celebrity at Limelight, and you never knew who you might run into.  Andy Warhol… Grace Jones… Mick Jagger… The entire club was a VIP Room, and you were immersed in an environment never again recreated in a nightclub. You weren’t merely a guest at Limelight; you were a participant in a night-long theatrical experience. Nowhere else could you dance above a shark tank, tigers or mermaids… Or experience a blizzard one moment, and a sea of bubbles the next… It was a visual smorgasbord everywhere you looked – living art displays, human mannequins, performance art and dazzling shows. Every visit to Limelight would herald a different experience. You never knew what to expect.

Set Designer K.P. Hendry: The outrageous theme parties had never happened before, even in my imagination!” says KP, referred to then as the club’s “promotional wizard, KP de Limelight.”  Fellini would have been proud” as the scenes unfolded at the first anniversary bash over 30 years ago. “LA DOLCE VITA by way of SATYRICON sets created a glittering, glamorous and mystifying party of epic proportion,” the press noted. Bare as You Dare, Jungle Fever, Wet & Wild and Sunday T-Dances kept the club packed back in those days, Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine Party probably being the most notable. Everybody was a star at the see-and-be-seen disco of the decade. Custom costumes were provided for thousands of guests who checked not only their clothes but also their day-to-day personas at the door. Couple that with Limelight’s unprecedented

A promo for the Jungle Fever party at Limelight featuring sets by K.P. Hendry.

DJs spinning their dazzling disco beat, through a spectacular sound system with an electrifying light show and it is no wonder, everyone still loves Limelight.  The larger-than-life energetic experiences exploded every evening. It was amazing to see and feel the transformation. August 6, at Center Stage, we will honor Club Creator Peter Gatien whose brilliance brought together the dancers of the day who left their inhibitions at the door.

Deja Vu Discotheque: Limelight Revisited. Center Stage. Ages 21 and up only. Doors open at 8 p.m. for V.I.P. ticketholders ($60) and 9 p.m. for general admission ($35). Tickets are available at www.limelightatl.com.

Note: All photos courtesy of K.P. Hendry.

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