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Janis: Little Girl Blue

An intimate and moving portrait of the talented but troubled rock star Janis Joplin

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This new documentary from Amy Berg looks at the life and career of rock star Janis Joplin, who died in 1970, just weeks before the release of her solo LP Pearl. It’s an intimate and moving portrait, told through interviews with family, bandmates and friends (including Dick Cavett); archival footage; and Joplin’s own words (as read by Cat Power from her many letters sent home to family). The film shows a remarkable talent who came up through the Austin folk scene before finding her niche in San Francisco’s bluesy, psychedelic-rock free-for-all. But there was trouble with men, trouble with drugs and, most poignantly, trouble with herself: Joplin, infamously bullied and harassed in her hometown of Port Arthur, Texas, remained needy and insecure despite the fame and fortune. Whatever outlet the stage provided for her unhappiness, there was no analog in the real world. There is some remarkable TV-news footage of every teenage loser’s dream — once-mocked Joplin attends her 10-year high school reunion as a rich, famous person — but the unfulfilled promise of this redemption is glaringly obvious, even behind Joplin’s feathered headdress and brave smile.


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