Thursday, December 3, 2015

Janis Joplin: One of a kind

When Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose in October of 1970, she was 27 years old. Fair to say, Joplin packed a whole lot of living into 27 years that began in Port Arthur, Texas and ended on the floor of a Hollywood hotel room. Director Amy Berg captures most of Joplin's short, hectic life as a bullied Texas girl who blossomed into a rock star whose emotions were expressed in raw, howling fashion in venues ranging from Monterey to Woodstock. If you don't know what I mean, check out 1968's Piece of My Heart or Cry Baby, released in 1971 after her death. Berg, who told the story of a pedophile priest in the chilling Deliver us from Evil (2006), uses letters written by Joplin (read by Cat Power) and lots of great archival and private footage to paint a portrait of a hard-living, but deeply vulnerable woman who seemed to feel alive only when she was on stage. Off stage, Joplin never seemed to know what to do with her emotions, so she lived with a blues' singer's load of pain. From early days, through her years with Big Brother and the Holding Company to stardom as a headliner, Janis: Little Girl Blue offers a compelling portrait of a woman too free to be contained and too wounded to call any place home. A must for music fans and those who want to recall a bit of the mind-blowing chaos of the '60s.

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