With Get It While You Can still stalled in lawsuit hell, Amy Berg‘s Janis: Little Girl Blue is the only Joplin project around. In his Venice Film Festival review, David Rooney called it “essential viewing for ’60s counterculture junkies”…what else? Excerpt: “Berg enlists Chan Marshall as narrator, chiefly to read excerpts from Joplin’s letters, either to her family at home in Port Arthur, Texas, or to friends and lovers. This turns out to be a smart choice. Marshall doesn’t ‘act’ her readings but — with her gentle Southern accent and self-evident connection to the subject as a female performer — simply lets the words and sentiments speak for themselves.
That helps create the illusion that, despite lots of talking heads, the binding voice and perspective of the documentary are Joplin’s own, and very much those of an outsider yearning for validation. Revealingly, she defines ambition in one letter to her mother as a need to be loved.”
Janis will screen tomorrow at the Toronto Film Festival, air down the road as a PBS American Masters presentation.