Tag Archives: movie

Janis: Little Girl Blue

janis

Last night I went to see the new documentary film directed by Amy J. Berg about the life of rock and roll blues artist, Janis Joplin.  I am sitting here this morning, the kids have gone to school and I’m humming Cry Baby and Me & Bobby McGee.

Janis died before I was born.  She was found by a friend in a hotel room.  When the friend entered the room, the light was on but he described it as feeling “unoccupied”.  The morning after her death, a telegram was discovered at the hotel desk, from the man with whom she had enjoyed a brief but fulfilling and genuine relationship.  They had separated so that he could continue travelling.  The telegram he had written told her that he was missing her and that he loved her very much.

This is how the film ends and it left me wishing that the telegram had not been found so late.  What would have happened to Janis if she had read it?

With some beautifully, grainy, retro footage of concerts, backstage, studio, hotels and earlier gigs, goosebumps formed on my arms watching the performances and hearing Janis’ passionate, husky, delivery of each song that came deep from the heart and a lifetime of confused relationships and let downs.

Pieced together by the movie’s narrator, Cat Power, who reads letters that Janis frequently wrote home to her family, Janis apologises for her actions, behaviour and her lifestyle.  At the same time she also gives them all the news that she was “brimming with”.  Janis’ words always suggest that she doubted herself, despite the outrageous confidence she would display.

The movie paints the picture of someone who we feel extremely sorry for.  There is even a mention, during the height of her success, that all the guys in the band would get to go back to the hotel with somebody, and she, would go back with no-one.  Did this fall back to the days when she was teased for her looks; she was an outcast and didn’t ‘fit in’?

Despite success, and I mean, she was a babe, a rock goddess, people realised how sexy she was and they fed off her energy, poor Janis came off stage empty and again, we feel sorry for her when success begins to crush her and she spirals into dependence on drugs and alcohol.

This morning, on reflection, I feel that the film did it’s best to make us not only sorry for Janis and her short life, but disgusted at society for having the power to push people to the bottom of the pile.  Yes, Janis rose, like a phoenix from the bottom of that pile, but she rose scarred from the way she had been treated in her younger years by her peers.

Acceptance is what society in Janis’ time lacked.  Acceptance is what society needs to keeping learning to do NOW.  I try to teach my kids every day that everyone is different and that everyone has something beautiful to give.  Sounds a bit sweet and a bit gushy doesn’t it?  But, hey, if Janis had read that telegram from the man who loved her for what she really was, who had accepted her as a person and who had been touched by and recognised all her beauty, might she still have been here today?

God bless you Janis.

 

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Gutterdammerung -Preview

On Thursday 12th November 2015, I went to the live preview for fans of Gütterdammerung, self proclaimed as a “dark fairytale” and the “loudest silent movie on earth”.

At the time I am writing this, the Gütterdammerung website reads:

“Dear Rockers

In honour of the victims in Paris and our friends from EODM, we have decided to keep our showcase trailer offline for 7 days.

Our showcase on the 12th was an amazing gathering of rockstars and fans both in film, on stage and on the tribunes of the London Forum.
A celebration of rock and roll brotherhood and togetherness with a crowd singing loud as one voice. Rock and roll is the sound of freedom.

Rock and roll will always sound louder than Kalashnikovs.
The Voices of freedom will sing louder than the voices of hate!

Our thoughts are with Jesse, his band, his crew
and all victims of terror worldwide.”

In respect of this statement, I am not posting a link to the trailer for the movie but will be writing a feature for Stereoboard.com nearer to the time of release.

So, “the loudest silent movie on earth”.  Intrigued by this concept and by the fact that the cast list includes some of the most iconic, influential characters in the world of rock and roll, I dragged my buddy along to The Forum in Kentish Town, London, to find out more.

Greeted at the door by mysterious hooded monks who marked crosses in black ash on our foreheads, we gave way to keeping an open mind and tried not to let the words “pure cheese” dominate our thoughts.  After all, when the likes of Slash, Iggy Pop, Josh Homme, Henry Rollins, Lemmy, Tom Araya and Jesse Hughes are all part of the cast, you wouldn’t imagine that this might be some kind of spoofy pantomime, would you?

When the film rolled, we were treated to excerpts of scenes from the movie which is due to go on tour accompanied by a live rock band next year. Directed by Bjorn Tagemose, Gütterdammerung is shot in the style of the classic 1920’s Hollywood movies of the silent era.  Beautifully shot, the black and white photography is crisp, clean and atmospheric and effectively highlights the conflict between good and evil in what I am hoping will be a clear story-line.  With cliches taken from every orifice of the heavy rock world: naked celestial virgins, religion, rebellion, wild and dusty plains, banished guitars, the film explores a world without sound, extreme in its quest for purity.

Instead of a lonesome piano accompaniment, a live rock band, fronted by up and coming rock showman and talented vocalist, Jesse Smith, take control of the mood.  Their presence is cleverly entwined behind the screen, their shadows, larger than life and placed in such a way that their reactions to the action on screen appear almost 3D.

In between the scenes where we are introduced to the acting skills of Eagles of Death Metal’s Jesse Hughes (who plays the bounty hunter) and Tuesday Cross (who plays the “bad girl”) Henry Rollins (who plays the Priest Svengali) and Iggy Pop, wings, horns and all, (who plays the fallen angel “Vicious”), we were treated to live sets from said members of EODM, an appearance from Henry Rollins and a surprise guest appearance from the high priestess herself, Grace Jones (who plays “the ultimate nemesis”).  I have never been so close to Grace Jones and am sorry to say that I failed in getting a decent photo, it was a moment to savour and feast with the eyes instead of fumbling about for a perfect shot.  She commanded a rendition of “Nightclubbing” (Iggy Pop) with total supremacy.

Following this was a very tongue in cheek Q&A hosted by actor Kevin Eldon.  I was hoping for some clear and meaningful insight into the making of the movie and it’s concept, but to be honest, I was none the wiser when the questions, delivered in a comedy fashion, were disappointingly answered in a similarly nonsense way by the panel (Jesse Hughes, Henry Rollins, Borjn Tagemose).

So first impressions?

Well, it could be considered as just a glorified music video but on the other hand, it’s an interesting concept, captured as a visual and audio thing of beauty.  When it tours in 2016,  I recommend an open mind and expect to embrace a bit of corny acting by some game rockstars.  This is something quite out of the ordinary; its a totally crazy, gigantic piece of rock and roll heaven and hell with a sniff of ‘spoof’ sprinkled on top.  It is stuff that will have you glued to the screen if you are a fan of all artists involved.

And as for the storyline?  Well I have a hunch that rock and roll never dies and that above everything, it will be returned to glory.

Long Live The Fans!

Anna x

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