Viewed at 2015 Venice Film Festival., "Janis, Little Girl Blue" by Amy Berg, With Alex Gibney, himself an outstanding documentarian acting as producer, is a Great Doc about a great American singer, Janis Joplin, who died too young on the verge of salvation.
Interviews with parents, sister, brother, surviving members of The Grateful Dead, Kris Kristofferson, and most surprising, Dick Cavett (1970). In a year of many good documentaries, this was the best of all -- a marvelous reconstruction of a tragic young life. Janis sang the blues with such conviction and such black feeling that even afro-Americans though she was black -- She died on October 4, 1970 in a Hollywood motel of an accidental heroin overdose at age 27 -- only two weeks after another rock legend, Jimi Hendrix, also at age 27. The film traces her life from humble origins in the nondescript north Texas town of Port Arthur, constant humiliation by her schoolmates because of her extreme nonconformity and relatively plain looks, up through her rise to prominence as the lead singer of the acid/rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company --one of the leading San Francisco rock groups of the mid sixties -- reaching the pinnacle when recognized as the top white blues singer of the age, her difficulties dealing with fame, her loneliness in the midst of adoring crowds, her battle with drug addiction, and finally her tragic early death on the verge of even wider fame and general acceptance by the serious music world.
Needless to say, the film is liberally spiced with clips from her amazing stage appearances, which is an added enrichment, but this is far from a mere excuse to present her songs -- far more a penetrating probe into the life of an extremely complex personality ---a true artist who became the victim of her own profound talent. Myself more or less a product of the psychedelic sixties, I left the vast Venice theater thoroughly emotionally drained and realizing I had just witnessed a remarkable film about a most remarkable life. Alex, Budapest
Musician Cat Power narrates this documentary on Janis Joplin's evolution into a star from letters that Joplin wrote over the years to her friends, family, and collaborators.
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