Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Yet Another Little Piece of Janis

The news that a Janis Joplin biopic in the works is something I have greeted with ecstatic ho-hummery. "That makes no sense!" you say. Oh, but it does.

The idea of a Joplin film has been kicking around for a long time now and was even hilariously slated to star people such as P!nk (in serious "Alecia Moore" mode, obviously), Renee Zellweger (and her squinty eyes) and Zooey Deschanel (apparently On A Mission to make a musical biopic, having recently spoken of taking up the Loretta Lynn mantel from Sissy Spacek). All of this in spite of the fact that there has basically already been a Janis Joplin biopic in the form of Mark Rydell's The Rose, starring Bette Midler, and jeepers what a film that is! That one was initially supposed to be a full on Joplin biopic, but Midler thought it impossible to reduce Joplin's legacy like that so they reconfigured it into a fictional story with strong connections to the real Joplin's life. Apparently there are no such qualms anymore.

I've never been all that much a fan of Janis Joplin's - or, more specifically, the era within which she found fame - although I can certainly see why people are. And no matter what one thinks of Joplin herself, her life certainly appears tailor made for the cinema treatment (but, then again, so does Tom Cruise's and that's a biopic that will truly be fascinating to see when it eventuates in 20 or 30 years). So while the prospect of yet another telling of her oft-told spiral of drugs doesn't exactly fill me with that much anticipation, the names behind it certainly are.

Turns out Sean Durkin, last year's best new directorial talent (don't let the awards bodies fool you, Margin Call was not a better feat of directing!) of Martha Marcy May Marlene will direct, Peter Newman will produce, and - most exciting of all - Nina Arianda will star. Durkin, it was recently announced, has some sort of Exorcist television series in the works so I'm not sure how that and this new feature film will co-exist at the same stage of production, but I'm just glad that he's not being left to dwell on television when his first film showed up pretty much every that Hollywood put out last year (save for Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive).

Ariana, however, is a name I grew increasingly fond of last year. While I (obviously) haven't seen her heavily praised work on Broadway, including Venus in Fur for which she won a Tony earlier this year, she did appear briefly in Vera Farmiga's Higher Ground and Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. If I had any form of an acting awards ballot she would have placed for her sarcastic, damaged work in the former. She reminds me of Brooke Smith in the way she can turn nothing supporting characters into memorable acts thanks to biting line delivery and a eye-grabbing look. Loving her right now and if she has to star in a biopic to get Hollywood's attention then so be it, I guess.

I mean, sure, she's no Jenna Maroney...

... but not many are. May Janie Jimplin live in our hearts for all time. Now where's her biopic?

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