Concerts, Documentaries, Video Comps, the works. Stuff I love and others I want to see. These just came to mind,…
Paul Williams Still Alive
Documentary about Paul Williams
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'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 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,…
FINALLY a bio doc that does something interesting! It very much takes a cue from the Michael Moore book of documentary, but oh well. At least it's not "Paul Williams was born..." The director as character at least makes things interesting. There's an arc to this thing and it isn't afraid of showing the blemishes. And no need to resort to interviews with random other celebrities going on about how great Paul is either. Bravo!
Paul Williams was big in the seventies. The diminutive singer-songwriter, who specialised in weepy ballads like "Evergreen" and "We've Only Just Begun", also became a mainstay of cheesy TV chat and variety shows, winning audiences over with his quick self-deprecating quips and willingness to be up for just about anything. At some point during the early 1980s, however, he faded into obscurity.
This ramshackle fan-perspective documentary begins by being a 'whatever happened to... ' piece, and hunts down Paul Williams, now a recovering alcoholic touring small venues, and basically trails along after him.
Williams is intelligent, engaging and self-aware, with an incredible life story surely filled with amazing showbiz anecdotes from his time at the top. Unfortunately, director Stephen Kessler…
A bizarre documentary about a tortured genius. Ended up being way too much about the director.
The life and music of Williams is good and interesting enough to fill a movie. Too bad this movie is filled with the director talking about what it all means to HIM and inserting HIMSELF into as much of the movie as Williams. All the meta stuff is clumsy and stupid and eye roll inducing.
There are a lot of different ways to go about a music documentary. You have the "let's give the subject a metaphorical blowjob for 90 minutes" approach. You have the "talking heads dissect everything" approach. You have the "get yourself invited to Ginger Baker's South African compound and antagonize him even though he's a complete dick who might not have a problem killing you" approach.
This film comes from the "way, way, WAY too nervous superfan stalks his idol and somehow becomes part of the inner circle" approach. This film is directed by the guy who directed the "not terrible but not great" Vegas Vacation. Apparently, he's loved Paul Williams ever since he can remember.
If you don't know, Paul…
Los Angeles, CA
I like Paul Williams pretty much. I'm not a huge
deep lover of like every single ballad, but yeah, good.
And Bugsy Malone, as many know is dear to my heart because of the music.
I think where this doc goes wrong is mainly with the direction.
I feel like he had a lot of trouble working with Paul, but after all the
documentary was suppose to be about Paul, no? A good what seemed
like half simply becomes about the directors struggles to make this documentary. I know that's been done before, but typically if this much material needs to be included, it should play a much more dynamic role in the plot as if…
Or, Oh, He Wrote That? Lively documentary about the meteoric rise and slow, simmering sobriety of Paul Williams, the singer-songwriter who became one of the world's least likely celebrities in the 1970s, then slipped into obscurity to battle addictions to drugs and alcohol.
The film picks up with Williams in the late '00s after the director, who connected with Williams' work growing up but assumed for years that he had died (hence the title), met him at a screening of The Phantom of the Paradise in Winnipeg. From there, the he follows Williams around as he tours and performs, and the two form an occasionally fraught friendship as a former attention whore becomes uncomfortable with being confronted with a past…
There's a great story here. Also a story about a filmmaker who finally learns how to shut up and listen to his subject.
An entertaining documentary that almost borders on parody as the vocal director inserts himself into the film and tries to provoke conflict and tragedy that's just not there. The end result is a documentary that feels like it's compiled of the things you're supposed to leave on the cutting room floor, and in the end it resonates as more "real" that way. It's not an essay, it's more or less what happened.
I'm not often into documentaries where the filmmaker works so hard to make themselves part of the narrative, but it works here, mostly due to Williams always being so annoyed by the director's presence.
Anyway, this is a nice tribute to a very important and often overlooked (today) figure.
Uneven, but interesting look at a guy I remember seeing everywhere when I was a kid.