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Case Number 19186: Small Claims Court

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Janis Joplin: Her Final Hours

MVD Visual // 2007 // 48 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power (Retired) // June 30th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Steve Power is still waiting for the Lord to buy him a Mercedes Benz, his friends all drive Tempos, he must make amends.

The Charge

These are no ordinary biographies…

The Case

Janis Joplin was, in her time and beyond, the undisputed queen of Rock N' Roll. Her unique, earthy vocals were as distinctive as her wild and ragged appearance and her on stage presence was like no other. Janis Joplin: Her Final Hours, plumbs the depths of Janis' fragile psyche. Weaving the events of her life into and out of the last 24 hours of her existence, this revealing biography attempts to trace the lines of fate that led from Janis' early life to her death at 27 years old. Top drawer re-enactments are combined with interviews with friends, bandmates, and family and some fantastic archival footage of the real Janis to provide a window into the wild, but deeply troubled soul that blew listeners away and set the stage for the future women of Rock N' Roll.

While I'm definitely familiar with Janis Joplin, her music, and her tragic end; this episode provided a little more insight into the woman behind the legendary figure. Of particular interest are the interviews with her bandmates and her manager. Typically, with a figure this big, there's a lot of hyperbole, half truth, reverence, and hubris from the participants. Here, everyone feels honest and heartfelt, like they could be talking about some girl from down the road, or across town, rather than a multi-national celebrity. It gives the whole thing a tone not unlike that of an unsolved mystery or a crime-based reality show. Treating Janis like a commoner instead of royalty adds a dimension of humanity. It's a fantastic approach that has me looking forward to future instalments of the series.

Aired initially as a part of the series, Final 24, there's a lot of repetition in the just shy of 50-minutes the show runs. Commercial breaks can be telegraphed by the narrators constant re-iterating of certain facts as he brings potential new viewers up to speed, or reminds those with short attention spans of what has gone on in the program up to the last run of commercials. Hearing him constantly drone the same sentences about Janis recording her latest album, Pearl, in Hollywood California, and staying at the Landmark Motel, gets old after the third time we hear it, let alone what feels like the 17th. That said, the production values startlingly good for a series of this type. The re-enactments are well staged and well shot, the archival footage and interviews are just frequent enough that the show doesn't have to rely too heavily on the re-enactments to sell the drama.

MVD's disc is equally impressive, with a clean, crisp anamorphic transfer that's a far cry from what I've come to expect from this sort of material. Colors are vibrant, and there's some natural looking grain that keeps the picture pretty earthy and warm without looking too tinkered with or digital. It's a great looking show. The sound is 2.0 stereo, but again, is strong, clear, and resonant. There are no extras included, but the technical quality of the main program is to be commended.

The Verdict

While it suffers from TV-itis, Janis Joplin: Her Final Hours does a pretty good job of getting into the background of Janis, as a human being instead of just a tragic figure in rock 'n' roll history.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 82

Perp Profile

Studio: MVD Visual
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 48 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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