Documentary - All I Can Say

Out today on DVD, Steve Taylor-Bryant found some things to say about the Shannon Hoon documentary, All I Can Say...

“I laugh and slip into another state of mind
To let you know I am real” 

– from Time by Blind Melon

Shannon Hoon, lead singer of the rock band Blind Melon, filmed himself religiously from1990-1995 with a video camera, recording up until a few hours before his sudden death at the age of twenty-eight. His camera was a diary and his closest confidant. In the hundreds of hours of footage, Hoon meticulously documented his life - his family, his creative process, his television, his band’s rise to fame, and his struggle with addiction. He filmed his daughter’s birth, and archived the politics and culture of the 90s, an era right before the internet changed the world. Created solely with his own footage, voice, and music, this rare autobiography is a prescient exploration of experience and memory in the age of video. It is also Hoon’s last work, completed twenty-three years after his death.

I would have been sad watching this film at any point in time. I am a Blind Melon fan and, like most of musical heroes, singer Shannon Hoon died way before his time, but the recent death of another musical hero, Taylor Hawkins, just seemed to add a level of sadness to my viewing of All I Can Say that maybe wouldn’t have been there if I had seen the film a few weeks earlier. I guess what I am saying is that, if you are emotionally attached to music stars like I am, then maybe be prepared for some tears to flow if you watch this film at a time in your life when maybe you aren’t quite ready to handle your grief because this film brought back sad memories and emotions, scene after scene, and just became increasingly more difficult to watch as the film went on. With Shannon’s final filmed conversation just a few hours before his death, the dam I had built inside of me just broke.

The film itself shows some intriguing and fascinating events unfurl from the point of view of Shannon and there are some strong highlights shown, the signing of the record deal and the performance of Soup at Woodstock ’94 to name but two. I think if I watch the film another day, in another frame of mind, then I may be able to list you some more but I hate to continue using the word ‘sad’ but every frame in All I Can Say was tinged with the word. The happy scenes became ‘oh what could have been,’ the tense and troubling scenes became a retrospective warning of what was to come. But the phone conversation in the final ever shot of Shannon Hoon, where he desperately doesn’t want to be on the tour bus he subsequently dies on a few hours later, is just gut busting and heart breaking to me, and to probably anyone else who has ever been through recovery, as we all have moments where we just knew that something wasn’t right and was going to lead to a dark place.

I apologise to the filmmakers and distributors for this review as I make it sound like I just don’t like All I Can Say, and they entrusted me to write a review fairly about what potential viewers will see when they choose to watch the film, and I haven’t done that. The film has had such a profound effect on me emotionally, and along with other events recently and my own past problems, that I can't tell anyone whether to watch this film or not. I guess if you are a fan of the music, the era, POV storytelling and concert highlights, then it has everything you want and need in a music documentary but just be warned that for some of us with a delicate emotional disposition it could trigger things you aren’t ready for.

Bulldog Film Distribution presents All I Can Say 

Images - Bulldog Film Distribution

Review first published on AlbieMedia Arts & Music on 5th April
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