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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 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…
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…
#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.
I liked the director interference here despite the contempt of many reviewers. It was the way he managed to work with Paul's quietness, reflected the making of a celebrity documentary and its cliches and also the personal experience for him as a fan.
"That Still Alive manages to get any traction at all is thanks entirely to Paul Williams’ seemingly bottomless wells of grace, humility, and outright magnetic charisma."
Seeing the filmmaker's journey was surprisingly interesting here.
I dunno, it's cool that Paul Williams is sober and everything and seems to be doing just fine for himself these days, but this documentary barely covers his work on The Muppet Movie and Phantom of the Paradise, doesn't cover his comeback on Muppet Christmas Carol AT ALL, and the director centers at least half of the movie on himself, and... I think somebody else needs to make a documentary about Paul Williams that is more cohesive and comprehensive.
El antidocumental acerca del antipersonaje. Con mucho sentido del humor, explora la vida de un personaje que todo el mundo parecía haber olvidado pero que quienes nacimos en los años 70 o antes recordamos con mucho cariño. Yo, especialmente, por su personaje antagónico en 'El fantasma de la ópera'. La película surge antes de que Williams sea buscado por Daft Punk para su colaboración en 'Random Access Memories', lo que le da un ingrediente adicional. Empieza muy bien, se ríe del formato mismo de los documentales biográficos, pero la segunda mitad de la cinta se puede tornar un poco agotadora. Sin embargo, vale la pena verlo totalmente.
A fine documentary about making a documentary but just when it gets into Paul's life it veers back into the relationship between he and the director.
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