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Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015 3 years ago

Film review: 'Janis: Little Girl Blue'

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A hidden gem among box-office blockbusters

In this, a time of big box office wannabes, a hidden gem is hitting art-house theaters. Amy Berg's new rock doc "Janis: Little Girl Blue" celebrates the life and voice of Janis Joplin, whose short career left an indelible mark on the music industry.

Through archival film footage, interviews and Janis' personal letters, we glean insight into the sexy, soulful and sweet iconic artist. Her dedication to non-conformity fueled her unique musical style and kicked-ass during the 1960's counterculture revolution.

Director-writer Berg ("West of Memphis") has created a a documentary from the perspective of Janis herself. In 1963 we follow the budding singer from Port Arthur, Texas to San Francisco. Her previous insecurities are obliterated when she hooks up with Big Brother and the Holding Company and rises to fame. In 1968, their first album "Cheap Thrills" went gold immediately, signaling and solidifying mass recognition. But offstage was another story.

The amazing spontaneous combustion which played out during Janis' performances turned into lonely downtime that fueled excessive drinking and drug use. Still, she managed to speak volumes about her empathic political and sociological leanings. Dick Cavett became her friend and confidant, as his TV interviews provided Janis a forum in which she could articulate such musings. The soft spoken, shy girl who emerged in these telling interviews is astounding to watch.

Explosive performance clips (of which there are many) reveal the raw talent which instigated reciprocity amongst audience members. Janis loved, more than anything, when the fans lost themselves in her music becoming one with her on stage. Kris Kristofferson was so blown away by her rendition of his "Me and Bobby McGee," that his face lights up when speaking about it in the film. This tremendous vocalist had an immense impact on everyone with whom she had contact.

Sadly, at age 27, Janis Joplin died of an accidental heroin overdose alone in a motel room. She left behind her a legacy in rock ’n’ roll history never to be forgotten. She once remarked, "You are what you settle for."

In "Janis: Little Girl Blue" it's quite clear she never settled — she soared.  

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