The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
Grace Jones: Bloodlight And Bami
2017, Sophie Fiennes, Ireland/UK, 115 min.
"The documentary is a feat of portraiture and a restoration of humanity. It's got the uncanny, the sublime, and, in many spots, a combination of both." - Wesley Morris, The New York Times
"A sumptuous sensory treat...Jones gives great diva for the camera." - Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter
As demonstrated by her previous films on Slavoj Žižek (THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA) and Anselm Kiefer (OVER YOUR CITIES THE GRASS SHALL GROW), Sophie Fiennes knows how to tailor a film to a cultural icon. She rises to the occasion again with this fittingly unconventional portrait of the ageless diva of androgynous glam, Grace Jones. This is no career retrospective filled with archival clips and talking heads. Instead, the tense is immersively present, and our proximity to Jones is all-access. Filmed and edited over a period of twelve years, the film uses as its spine a visit by Jones to her family in Jamaica, where she dines on bami, goes to church, and recalls the abusively strict religious upbringing that helped to define her steely stage persona. These scenes are interwoven with round-the-world glimpses of Jones recording (that's where "bloodlight" comes in), relaxing, negotiating, battling with producers and hotel managers, and performing electrifying live versions of such legendary favorites as "La Vie en Rose," "Pull Up to the Bumper, "Warm Leatherette," and "Slave to the Rhythm" (while twirling a hula hoop!). DCP digital. (MR)
Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat
2017, Sara Driver, USA, 78 min.
"More than does justice to its acknowledged subject…conveying his personal magnetism, eccentricity and non-stop creativity without romanticizing him." - John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
"Vivid and beautifully meditative memory piece on the downtown New York art and music scene of the late 1970s and early '80s." - Chris Barsanti, The Playlist
Director Driver (WHEN PIGS FLY, YOU ARE NOT I) captures the wild, raw spirit of the young unknown Jean-Michel Basquiat through the memories and tales of friends and occasional lovers, who knew him not as the lionized art luminary on par with Andy Warhol, but as the eccentric homeless teenager struggling alongside them to eke out an existence on the desolate streets of lower Manhattan in the late-1970s. Unlike earlier films on Basquiat (including Julian Schnabel's fictionalized BASQUIAT and Tamra Davis' documentary JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD) this haunting portrait spreads its net wide, putting the tagger and enfant-terrible-to-be in the gritty context of an economically ravaged city, where a new avant-garde art and music culture was being born on alley walls, in pop-up galleries, and in venues like the Mudd Club and Club 57. Interviews include former Basquiat roommate and collector extraordinaire Alexis Adler, hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy, graffiti artist Lee Quiñones, and filmmakers Driver, James Nare, and Jim Jarmusch. DCP digital. (BS)