Janis: Little Girl Blue


Action / Biography / Documentary / Music

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 77%
IMDb Rating 7.5 10 3944


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July 23, 2016 at 07:25 PM



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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by classicsoncall 8 / 10

"She liked rocking the boat." - Brother Michael Joplin about his sister Janis

The fall of 1970 delivered a terrible gut punch with the passing of two rock icons, Jimi Hendrix on 9/18, and Janis Joplin on 10/4/70. I wouldn't go so far as to say they were 'idols' of mine, but I did hold their body of work in high regard, brief as their careers might have been. This recent documentary did much to confirm what I read about Janis in a recent book of her life. She was a lonely spirit, terribly insecure about her personal appearance and lack of meaningful relationships, finding her inner soul only when she was on stage and performing for the crowds that gave her the approbation she so desperately wanted and needed.

What this documentary offered that I particularly enjoyed was musical footage I hadn't seen before, including songs Janis performed that I'd never heard before, like the opening "Tell Your Momma". The story goes on to describe Janis's close relationship with her family that she tried to maintain during the course of her rising career, even though she wanted to leave her Port Arthur, Texas roots well behind her. Much of the on screen personal dialog is handled by her sister Laura throughout the picture, with occasional clips of brother Michael.

Fans of Joplin will know that her career breakout occurred with Big Brother and the Holding Company at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967. In these music documentaries, I try to stay attentive to scenes that offer a glimpse of memorabilia from the era, and I was astonished to see a ticket for the Festival during a quick scene. It's not unusual to see tickets priced at five or six dollars back in the Sixties, the Beatles' concert at Shea Stadium would have set you back a whole five bucks. But for Monterey Pop - a stage front seat went for a 'Charitable Contribution'! There's something to be said about the good old days.

In any event, Janis Joplin has been and probably will remain my favorite female vocalist for a long time. There's something electrifying about her voice and the way she sustains that bluesy soul feeling in songs like "Cry Baby", "Maybe" and the song that epitomizes her life and tragic end, "Little Girl Blue". Listen to the words, and all the pain and sorrow is there that Janis experienced, and which unfortunately led to her premature death at the age of twenty seven. Man, I wish she were still around.

Reviewed by hyoga_saint 8 / 10

A great window into wounded, soulful, legendary Janis Joplin

This touching, intimate documentary chronicles the life of legendary singer Janis Joplin, from her childhood in Port Arthur to her untimely death, as told by her surviving family members, friends, lovers, associates, peers, and by Joplin herself, through personal letters and notes.

When Don McLean talks of the "girl who sang the blues" in his seminal song American Pie, it is Janis he references. We see that smile of hers, so full of life, passion and joy. We also see the many faces of her sadness, that bewitching, heartbreaking pain that fed her powerful, inimitable voice.

This documentary takes us beyond the music, although Janis was pure music. It is the medium that drove her to like-minded spirits, to someplace she could truly feel herself at home. It led her to recognition, adulation, success. She never seems as alive as when she is on stage.

We see how she got there, her ups and downs, the loneliness, self-doubts, the need for an acceptance that may have never really come, especially from herself. Along with the music, the alcohol is also there, as are the drugs. A life lived on the edge, despair never fully going away.

I would have liked a little more time to go even more in-depth, peel the layers even more and get closer still to Janis, that little girl blue with the harrowing, unforgettable voice. It is still a wonderful, moving trip to a time, a woman, a soul who remains, in many ways, untouchable.

(+) A wonderful retrospective that will tell you who was Janis Joplin, converting newcomers and thrilling long-time fans.

(-) More time could have been spent engrossing the story, showing more of the different sides of this haunted, incredible singer.

Reviewed by SnoopyStyle 8 / 10

good doc

Janis Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas growing up with a conventional and accommodating family. Her high school years grew more bohemian during the civil rights era. Her looks were never conventional and she was ridiculed for it. She escaped to San Francisco. She got strung out on meth and returned home to recover. Her fiancé Peter abandoned her after getting another woman pregnant. She returned to San Francisco joining an old friend's managed band Big Brother and the Holding Company. She became a breakout star at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Her voice is always the star. There is obvious cooperation from family and friends. It doesn't mean that this doc shy away from her darker sides. Her addictions may be glossed over during the early days but her femininity issue is never that far from the surface. It covers her musical journey very well and gets enlightening glimpses into her private life. I would love more performances but this is not a concert film. Her performances are also used to highlight her struggles. This covers all the major points including the ups and downs of her career as well as her spiraling addictions. This is great for any passing fans.

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