Saturday, September 26, 2015

Paul Williams Still Alive (2011)

Director: Stephen Kessler
Starring: Paul Williams

What ever happened to Paul Williams? Director Kessler takes a personal approach to finding out what happened to the pop sensation of the 70s/80s who received critical acclaim for his songwriting, pop tunes and musical scores and had a host of acting gigs including roles in Phantom of the Paradise and Beyond the Planet of the Apes. After a torturous period of drug and alcohol abuse, Williams cleaned up his act and now takes solace in traveling through small time America providing entertainment and discussing addiction. But why hasn't he comeback to the big time?

This is really the all encompassing question over why Williams continues to tour low key and having next to no interest in returning to a place with so many bad memories. As a Williams fan, it's great to see something like this exist to see what has happened through the years, however those unfamiliar with his work will not necessarily be drawn to it.

Kessler, a director of mostly commercials who delved into features with the National Lampoon Vegas Vacation and the independent feature titled The Independent, fails in his mission to seek out a truly remarkable documentary. Either he's a director who's still a complete amateur or he's such a fanatic that he doesn't present Williams to the full extent - probably the later. It’s directly seen that Williams becomes frustrated at not knowing what Kessler wants, and the fact is that it's not clear at all.

For those who don't know, Williams wrote many songs for film, including Bugsy Malone and The Muppet Movie, and wrote a host of songs for other artists including Rainy Days and Mondays and Close To You for The Carpenters. He won an Academy Award for co-writing Evergreen with Barbara Streisand. In his most recent work, he collaborates with Daft Punk on their album Random Access Memories.


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