Janis | Chicago Reader

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In his original Reader review, Don Druker panned this 1974 Janis Joplin documentary as “a good deal of concert footage spliced together with a surprisingly meager amount of 'candid' interview material.” Today the tight focus on Joplin's live performances seems like the film's chief asset: her shivery blues ballad “Ball and Chain” is presented no less than three times (on a San Francisco TV show and at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and at a German concert in 1969), yet each version adds something new. The casual interview sequences seem fairly revealing too, in part because Joplin's flower-child grooviness is so often belied by flashes of arrogance, bitterness, and vulnerability. 96 min.

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