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Grace Jones (#110 of 5)

Toronto Film Review Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

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Toronto Film Review: Sophie Fiennes’s Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

TIFF

Toronto Film Review: Sophie Fiennes’s Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

It’s enough to just train a camera on the towering Grace Jones and the glam, glitter, and inimitable fierceness will quickly follow. Sophie Fiennes (The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology) begins her biographical performance doc Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami by seamlessly intercutting two separate performances of the same song from a 2016 concert. In the first, Jones prowls the stage catlike, purring from behind an Eiko Ishioka-designed death mask. In the second, she croons the same lyrics while effortlessly, endlessly twirling a hula hoop. The message is clear: Jones is both these people, and more. She walks on some kind of undefinable razor’s edge, reinventing herself as whim and circumstance dictates, and Fiennes’s film follows that lead.

Video Review: Beyoncé, "Run the World (Girls)"

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Video Review: Beyoncé, “Run the World (Girls)”
Video Review: Beyoncé, “Run the World (Girls)”

Beyoncé comes off like a barely sentient but cohesive and rational human being in real life. Too much so for a star of her stature. Her reserve of crazy is far from bottomless, and she seems to save it all for her music videos, and I love her for that. I still get prickly flesh when I think of the rage she exudes in “Ring the Alarm,” a performance that in four minutes should have earned her a Lifetime Achievement Oscar in scenery-swallowing. Her far more successful clip for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” was a TRON-ier merger between (wo)man and machine than an entire soundtrack’s worth of Daft Punk. And she buoyed her somewhat stagflating reputation last year with a monumentally outré double-dip in Lady Gaga’s Petri dish.

A Movie a Day, Day 73: The Box

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A Movie a Day, Day 73: <em>The Box</em>
A Movie a Day, Day 73: <em>The Box</em>

Springsteen’s song about 57 channels and nothing to watch was playing in my head last night as I rounded through my favorites on the remote control. Not that there wasn’t anything good to watch—the season premiere of Mad Men and the latest episode of True Blood, my favorite soap, were waiting in the DVR queue, and when they were done I stumbled on the second half of the always awesome Clueless. But when I searched for a movie to watch from the start, the best I came up with was The Box, a long shot that didn’t pay off.

Summer of ‘85 A View to a Kill

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Summer of ’85: A View to a Kill

MGM

Summer of ’85: A View to a Kill

Roger Moore saved my evening once. I took a friend for a drink at Elaine’s, near where I lived on the Upper East Side. My friend knew that celebrities congregated there, and refused to leave for our appointed dinner until we saw one. I sighted a New York character actor, but no go—it had to be a name-above-the-title star. For a seeming eternity, none came into our orbit. Then, when I could stand the waiting game no longer, who should enter but…Beau Maverick. Simon Templar. James Bond. There could be no argument: Roger Moore was the real deal. Dinner was served.

Karmically speaking he did me a good turn, given how thoroughly he had ruined another evening of mine in May of 1985. I was 19 years old, the film critic for the Daily Northwestern, and eager to convert another friend into Bond-age. (I was a fan since my dad took me to see a double feature of Diamonds Are Forever and Live and Let Die in 1974 or thereabouts.) Things were looking up: 1983’s Octopussy, with Moore, was divertingly silly, and Never Say Never Again later that year was a more-or-less satisfying one-off for the returning Sean Connery. A View to a Kill, which we were seeing at a preview screening at the Esquire Theater in Chicago, should have clinched it, and brought another fan into the fold.

Summer of ‘84—The Milding of the Times: Conan the Destroyer

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Summer of ‘84—The Milding of the Times: Conan the Destroyer
Summer of ‘84—The Milding of the Times: Conan the Destroyer

MONGOL GENERAL: “Yes! That is good!”

Such is the philosophy of Conan the Barbarian, the 1982 adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s pulp tales of swords & sorcery, which is sweaty, primal, violent and mean. Memorable images include Arnold Schwarzenegger impaled on the “Tree of Woe” and defending himself against a prowling vulture with his bare teeth; Arnold screwing a she-witch in her tent before hurling her into a fireplace; Arnold decapitating a gigantic snake-beastie as well as an arch-nemesis (and, as a punctuation mark, throwing the villain’s head down a flight of stairs into the gaping crowd below); Arnold punching out a homosexual priest who is foolish enough to attempt seducing him; Arnold saying a pagan prayer to the Earth God, Crom, which he wraps up with, “If you don’t answer, then to hell with you!”