All We Are Saying Movie Review

Here's an intriguing and potentially electrifying documentary concept: Rosanna Arquette gets the lowdown on life in the music biz by chatting with A-list rock stars, including Sting, Steven Tyler, Gwen Stefani, Tom Petty, Yoko Ono, Stevie Nicks, Thom Yorke, Elton John, Mr. and Mrs. Sonic Youth, and a dozen others from the '60s through the '90s. This is gonna be great, right?

Sadly, producer, director, and "experiencer" Arquette did exactly one thing well: the title. All We Are Saying is appropriately a dull, bloated gab marathon. And since she didn't clear the featured artists' music for the movie, it's all talk, no song, not even a few bars from a stage performance. Imagine The Aristocrats without the joke, stretched out over 105 minutes.

While All We Are Saying lacks sparks, its access is abundant, trending heavily towards '70s and '80s rock but also sampling contemporary top-40 and a little hip-hop. The artists get down and dirty about the familiar topics of recording and touring, and the less familiar ones about paying the bills, capturing their muses, and raising their kids on the tour bus.

Unfortunately, Arquette's documentary skills can't keep up with her ability to get backstage, and her disappointing interviews often raise more questions than they answer. For example, the FM-era rockers whine relentlessly about how it used to be "all about the music, man" until MTV ruined everything. And what does Gwen Stefani, who owes her prosperity to the visual orientation of the system, think of this development? Arquette never asks; instead we get Stefani's banal story about getting locked out of her mansion for a few hours.

Also, every artist expresses unanimous disgust and dissatisfaction with the economic model of the industry, which finds it more profitable to churn through new acts than to develop careers. But the only suit who appears in the industry's defense isn't asked about it. Instead Jimmy Iovine jabbers about what a genius he was to hook up with Suge Knight's Death Row records and popularize West Coast gangsta.

To Arquette's credit, she mostly keeps herself out of the picture, only occasionally appearing to point a camcorder at someone. But if you're not as starstruck as she is, you might wonder what exactly you got out of your hour and 45 minutes. For all the TV-bashing in All We Are Saying, VH-1 could have made a significantly more informative, engaging, and tighter version of this movie.


All We Are Saying Rating

" Grim "

Rating: NR, 2005


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