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JANIS JOPLIN Her Final Hours MVD Visual MVD4977D (2010)
Less than convincing Joplin bio...

Janis Joplin

'Janis Joplin - Final 24: Her Final Hours' isn't the worst rock documentary you will come across but it certainly isn't the kind of work you will revisit in a hurry. The lack of any new footage or bonus material and the preposterous pretensions to being a psychological detective story, make this short DVD less than an essential purchase.

You need look no further than the wording on the DVD case; - 'the mystery of why the celebrity died' - to give you a clue as to the tabloid nature of this mock drama 'rockumentary'. And it is the very premise of trying to outline her last 24 hours in a bogus attempt to uncover why she died that is the core problem with this documentary.

For aside from the few snippets of Janis actually singing and a handful of sympathetic talking heads this cod dramatisation is exactly the opposite of what true Janis fans and rock fans in general would be looking for.

Former Big Brother band members Sam Andrew and David Getz along with road manager John Cooke, Janis's brother Michael, publicist Myra Friedman and a couple of former high school friends do offer some careful reflection but you feel their heartfelt memories would have been better served in a proper bio pic.

As it is we get fanciful reconstructions and the ridiculous hour by hour countdown from an English voice-over who dramatically intones, 'in three hours Janis will be dead'.

The only really revealing moments of this post pub fare is the obvious references to her addictive personality and the fall out with her first band Big Brother and the Holding Company as she ascended the star ladder. And even these two aspects of her life are hardly subjected to any real scrutiny.

Mentions of a few personal traumas in her teens and her straight Port Arthur, Texas background is hardly the stuff of meaningful analysis. Far more relevant if not revolutionary, is Sam Andrew's honest reflection that Big Brother weren't good enough to step up to the plate and record her debut album. He also tellingly describes how his own position starkly shifted from that of being 'family' (and in the band) to being an employee.

Janis' road manager John Cooke is probably the most objective and succinct observer but even he with the benefit of hindsight concludes little more than describing Janis as an addictive personality. The death 15 years ago of Janis's producer Paul Rothchild deprived this project of one of the real potential sources of insight and without recourse to any of her San Francisco musical contemporaries this DVD offer only a very limited 'scissors and paste' overview and certainly not the 'fresh and revealing alternative biography' alluded to on the DVD case. But then again I was probably expecting too much from a DVD that struggles to reach the 45 minute mark inclusive of reconstructed dramatisation.


Review by Pete Feenstra

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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