Paul Williams Still Alive (2012)

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Movie Info

He won Grammys and an Academy Award; wrote many #1 songs; starred in a Brian DePalma movie; put out his own hit records and albums; was a guest on The Tonight Show fifty times; and is the president of ASCAP...and you might not have heard of him. In the 1970's, Paul Williams was the singer / actor / songwriter that emotional, alienated teenage boys all over the world wanted to be, a sex symbol before MTV, when sex symbols could be 5"2 and sing songs about loneliness with the Muppets. A wistful musical journey that will re-introduce a new generation to Williams' soulful classics, Paul Williams: Still Alive is the charmingly self-narrated story of Stephen Kessler's lifelong obsession with the former superstar-and what happens when the nostalgic filmmaker finally catches up with him. -- (C) Abramorama
Rating:
PG-13 (for drug references and brief strong language)
Genre:
Comedy , Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts , Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 limited
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

Critic Reviews for Paul Williams Still Alive

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (15)

The insightful, rueful, intensely self-critical and self-aware Williams delivers a harsh look at his own accomplishments, as well as at Kessler's process.

Full Review… | January 21, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

What makes Paul Williams Still Alive successful is the relationship between Kessler and Williams.

Full Review… | October 23, 2012
NPR
Top Critic

For all of Kessler's annoying traits, he did get results. Perhaps a different approach wouldn't have yielded a film as satisfying as "Paul Williams Still Alive."

Full Review… | July 26, 2012
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

The resulting documentary, at once endearing and dull, does indeed tell us about Williams, but it also tells us perhaps too much about Kessler.

July 12, 2012
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Filmmaker Stephen Kessler's sheer delight in following around his boyhood idol, whose music framed much of the '70s when Kessler was a lad in Queens, is thoroughly infectious.

Full Review… | June 29, 2012
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

An entertaining, emotionally inspired stroll down memory lane -- that is, for Kessler.

Full Review… | June 21, 2012
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Paul Williams Still Alive

A sentimental portrait of a man who wanted nothing more than to entertain others (and eat squid). This film made me a fan of Paul. In more ways than expected.

Evan Michael
Evan Michael
½

A hostile documentary fails in a most spectacular way. Despite the film's obvious initial motivation to force a trite tale of a fall from grace, it ends up showing the truth, that Williams is happier now than he has ever been. Paul Williams succeeded in transcending superficiality and achieving something he could never in Hollywood: gaining acceptance and friendship as his authentic self.

G Richard Barton
G Richard Barton

"Paul Williams: Still Alive" is a moderately involving documentary whose lesson is not to not meet one's heroes but rather to not get personally involved with one's fans. That's because Paul Williams fan Stephen Kessler who was at first surprised that he was still alive tracks his hero down to Winnipeg where he is performing in concert, signing autographs and body parts and consuming insane amounts of squid. Later, Kessler films him on tour, apparently only to badger him over two continents as to why he appeared in such 70's television series as 'The Gong Show.' Three reasons are readily apparent: One for the money, two, because Williams was such a ham and three, how many people can say they were shot by Angie Dickinson? In fact, I was thinking over the first twenty minutes of this documentary that this was the first time Kessler picked up a camera. And then it is revealed that Kessler has actually directed a couple of features, along with commercials. I guess directing a documentary is harder than it looks.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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