Janis: Little Girl Blue @ The Ross

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 5.12.19 PM

I remember hearing Janis Joplin for the first time, and I did not know what to make of this voice that sounded like desperation screeching across a chalkboard. When I saw publicity stills of her, I wondered why she appeared so scraggly. Humph. Unkempt. Even more bizarre, she looked young but sounded old … and … loud! Her smile, however, invited me in to know some thing about her.

Filmmaker Amy J. Berg, summons us into the world of Janis Joplin, and Berg has outdone herself in the research of her subject. Her documentary Janis: Little Girl Blue is an awe-inspiring journey into the delicate but hardwearing but complicated heart and soul of Janis Joplin, a compelling force of nature on the landscape of rock n’ roll.

Narrated by singer/songwriter Cat Power, Janis chronicles the singer’s rise to power with commentary from her colleagues and friends. There’s Big Brother and the Holding Company—the band that featured her in the 1960s; Clive Davis, Dick Cavett, Melissa Etheridge, Paul Albin, and John Cooke. The one thing they all agree on: Janis Joplin pierced the veil of the male-dominated world of rock and roll but at a great cost.

Some of us are all too familiar with Joplin’s story: the little girl blue born into a conservative family from Texas who came of age as a singer during the psychedelic times of the 60s in San Francisco, and who died from a heroin overdose at the age of 27.

Berg’s storytelling is so raw so visceral that Joplin’s love for life, and her indomitable spirit that compelled her to take it all in feels like a science fiction movie in 3d. Just as did Joplin through her music, Berg’s documentary probes the singer’s heart, and you will hear it beat when old photographs of her family appear; when her letters to her family are read; when her siblings Laura and Michael Joplin speak; and when her voice sears through the archival footage of her interviews and concerts; The tremors are all too real. Janis: Little Girl Blue is soulful in its intimacy; touching in the details rendered by those who knew her; and, brilliant in its intensity.

The Ross logo

Janis: Little Girl Blue plays through January 28 at The Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

Youth, starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel also plays through January 28 at the Ross.

 

Advertisements
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: