Paul Williams Still Alive (2011)
September 12, 2014 6:58 PM - Subscribe

A documentary about legendary songwriter and 70's icon Paul Williams.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (2 comments total)
This was a surpise delight for me: Paul Williams was very big for a brief window of time (mid- to late- 70s I guess, and then took a career plunge in early 80s), so seeing him again was kind of mind-blowing.

This documentary trundles along and, as with many good documentaries, the line between filmmaker and subject becomes blurred; pretty soon, documentary maker Stephen Kessler starts resenting Williams' (third? I think) wife being so actively involved in her husband's career. It's quite hilarious as Kessler goes from one step up from a groupie to a truly more mature and grown-up admirer. (The initial "meet and film" scenes are particularly painful to watch! In a good way...)

Williams comes away looking like someone who has been through the Hollywood and music industries and is very much a better person now than at the height of his fame. He takes responsibility for his earlier mistakes in his marriages - looking at a photo of his first wife, he remarks that his third wife got the man his first wife deserved (if I recall the scene correctly). It's very touching.

There are many funny moments and at least one nail-biting section. Quoting from an Imdb review: "Whether your personal reference point to Williams is The Muppets ("The Rainbow Connection"), The Carpenters (Rainy Days & Mondays"), or Brian DePalma's midnight movie cult classic "The Phantom of the Paradise", you can trust me at least on one thing about this film: it WILL make you glad that Paul Williams is still alive!" Indeed.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:47 PM on September 12, 2014

It's been awhile since I've seen the movie, but I remember being very moved by that moment at the end where Paul is rewatching those painful embarassing TV moments. I can't imagine living a life in which struggling with alcohol and drug abuse isn't just a personal battle, it's a very public and humiliating battle. I really appreciate the tenacity of this director in getting a very reluctant Paul Williams to let us see his story and bring the audience along for the ride.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:21 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

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