Documentary about Paul Williams
Documentary about Paul Williams
I just want to go on the record that I really hate having to rate a documentary on Paul Williams so god damn low.
The director of Paul Williams Still Alive is Stephen Kessler, a self-proclaimed fan of Williams who does a very poor job documenting his idol's life and career. Instead, Kessler interjects himself into the narrative so much that it becomes nauseating.
For a majority of the running time we're witnessing Williams' annoyance with Kessler; from Kessler asking him provoking questions and cutting him off from anything remotely interesting--in hopes to discuss things Williams is visibly uncomfortable with, to obsessing over terrorism/food safety in the Philippines (giving a bad name to American tourists the world over), and there's…
One of the worst music documentaries I have ever seen. The director pulls the narrative of this film out of his ass, annoys his subject, and makes the film so much about himself that any time it truly focuses on its subject it feels like he's just waiting for his time to talk about himself again.
I love Paul Williams and grew up with his music. He deserved better than this garbage.
I thought I was going to watch a movie about Paul Williams, but it's mostly about the annoying director of the film. There's an unbearable subplot about how scared he is of terrorism that should have been cut.
The Paul Williams stuff is cool, though. Seeing a lot of the old footage was cool.
Was not expecting this to be one of those documentaries where the filmmaker is as much the focus as the ostensible subject, but here we are - at one point Stephen Kessler literally points the camera at a mirror, showing him sitting there. His digressions also include where he lived as a child, his filmmaking career (he did Vegas Vacation and that one Taco Bell commercial with the stretchy cheese), the value in ignoring United States travel advisories, and 70s TV kitsch, which dovetails quite nicely with Mr. Williams' career.
That said, this is a very infectiously watchable documentary about a genuinely down-to-earth and funny dude who happens to be a pop culture icon. There's no false pathos or drama,…
I've seen lots and lots of documentaries about musicians and entertainers, and this was one of the best I've seen.
Paul Williams may not be a big name in 2013, but in the '70s it was hard to avoid him. A diminutive songwriter with several enormous hits to his credit ("Rainbow Connection" and "We've Only Just Begun" for starters), he got swept up in Hollywood stardom, seemingly never saying no to anything, and saw his stardom shift from that of a quality singer/songwriter to a willing ham in everything from "The Love Boat" to "The Gong Show." Couple that with failed marriages and increasing dependence on drugs and alcohol, and he pretty much vanished from sight in the '80s.
I didn't even care that Paul Williams was there anymore.
Having just watched Phantom of the Paradise for the first time a few days ago, when I spotted this documentary on NetFlix I had two reactions: "Hell yes! This is perfect timing!" and "Paul Williams is still alive?!" So I guess the title of the documentary is perfect, unlike the documentary itself.
There's no need to analyze anything as to why this is awful, it's all because of director Stephen Kessler's insistence on making a film called Paul Williams Still Alive be about himself instead of, well, Paul Williams!
It's like Kessler watched a few clips from some Michael Moore documentaries, you know the parts where he talks…
This was like the show “People Like Us,” but it was very very real. The director for some reason is under the impression that Paul Williams is dead but a simple Google search would have cleared that up. No matter, he now wants to make a film to see why and how he fell so far. The results are lessons in what not to do when interviewing a celebrity.
Worth watching to learn more about the great Paul Williams, but be prepared for the director to hijack the movie a bit.
Certain aspects of the presentation were really grating, such as the way the director continues to constantly impose himself into a movie that should really be about Paul. Over time, as the uncomfortable moments pile up more and more, it becomes harder and harder to believe this is a labor of love and more that the director is actually trying to uncover some juicy philosophical dirt about Paul's apparent "fall from stardom" for his own agenda. No such dirt to be found, because Paul is a pretty cool guy as it seems, he recognizes now how dangerous that environment was to him and never wants to go back.
Therein lies the strength of this film, as a fan of Paul's music, seeing him and his life now was very interesting. I quite loved this film for Paul Williams despite the uncomfortableness of much of it. An absolute must-watch if you're a fan of Paul Williams.
We ended up watching through some Netflix Roulette and I'm sure as hell glad we did. I was familiar with Paul Williams, of course, being a child of the 70s and 80s. Hell, I remember seeing him on The Muppet Show and in Smokey and the Bandit. I've seen Phantom of the Paradise and was familiar with some of his songs. But that's just a man's work. It's not a way of knowing the man and that's why I love docus like this one. It starts with a fan wanting to meet a childhood idol and becomes an intimate portrait of the artist and the blossoming of a true friendship. Williams is hard to work with as he often avoids…
I've often bemoaned what I see as the death of sincerity. It's underscored any time I encounter something like Paul Williams: Still Alive, a frustrating "documentary" about classic songwriter/actor Paul Williams. It's another one of those "meta" projects that ends up being more about the process behind what it intended to be rather than its actual subject. The film is not particularly well made, frequently veering off on tangents, directorial navel gazing or verite moments that show that Paul might actually be irritated with the whole affair. It kind of reminded me of Martin Bashir's pointed Living With Michael Jackson documentary, except less focused and made by a hipster with ADD.
After a while, you start to wonder if director Stephen Kessler even really likes Paul Williams or just views him as some quaint curio from his childhood. For me, this film said more about Kessler than it did Williams.
I spent the first 20 minutes really disliking this film and wishing the director would just get out of the way. And then squid happened and I realized this was a different movie than I thought it was. In the end, this is probably the most honest celebrity documentary I've ever seen.
#156. A heartfelt documentary about Paul Williams, 1970s songwriter and celebrity icon and where he is today.
This would be considerably better with less of the director. At first I found it kind of charming, and thought the reviews bashing his on camera involvement were a bit harsh, but then his involvement on camera grew more and more and it made sense. Paul Williams is an interesting guy, and it was cool to learn about him. I didn't need to learn so much about Steve Kessler.
I had the privilege of meeting Steven Kessler in class yesterday and got the chance to discuss the film and ask questions about his process. I have to say that my initial reaction to the film was quite negative, but upon hearing his rationale, I was able to better understand his perspective and the perspective of the film. The film is more about the relationship that develops between Steven and Paul and less a straight documentary about Paul Williams. In Steven's words, it's more a film about two characters based on Steven and Paul rather than a true-to-life biography of Paul Williams. It's an unconventional take on the documentary form that is both problematic and interesting in its flaws.
Darren Fx 2,819 films
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