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Paul Williams Still Alive (2011)

Paul Williams , Stephen Kessler  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Williams
  • Directors: Stephen Kessler
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Virgil Films and Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 5, 2013
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,087 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul's Fans are Still Alive Too November 5, 2012
By Amazoon
Format:Amazon Instant Video
I'm strongly recommending this film, although only to those "super-fans" of Paul Williams (and I can proudly count myself as being one of them).

I've been listening to Paul Williams ever since my father brought home his LP "A Little Bit Of Love" way back in 1974. I was only 10 or so, but his songs resonated with me even as a young boy. The album was so vastly different from any of the typical country twang that my father was accustomed to playing that it really stood out, and it remains a favorite of mine even to this day. In the mid 70's, Williams released "Phantom of the Paradise", an incredibly creative glam/horror cult film and soundtrack that truly solidified my love for Paul and his music.

STILL ALIVE recounts the many TV guest appearances and cameos Paul made during the 70's, and as a fan, it was so pleasurable watching these film snippets. It was like traveling inside a television time capsule, and I was struck at the sheer volume of projects Paul was involved with. As for the notion of him being deceased, I've always known he was alive and well, so it struck me as phony that a supposed fan like (writer/director) Stephen Kessler wouldn't have known this as well. So in retrospect, the film's title seems more like a marketing tool than anything based in reality.

In any event, this is a solid documentary that kept me interested throughout, and I savored every morsel. I've read in other reviews that some critics found Kessler to be annoying and/or self-serving. I didn't find this to be the case. I very much enjoyed his narration, and felt that it livened up the unhurried pace of the film.

It's a bit saddening for someone like me to watch Paul's shrinking spotlight.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A misguided but surprisingly compelling story... January 20, 2013
Tossing aside the poorly chosen title, the film has one significant conceit that harms it... the idea that Paul's existence was solely dictated by his TV popularity. He WAS a staple of 70's TV talk shows, but let's face it, A) the talk show format died, Paul didn't, and B) if that is what you love Paul for you're obviously not as interested in Paul as you think you are. Director Stephen Kessler takes us along on a fascinating ride which on the surface comes across like a stalker/star relationship wherein the stalker uses the camera to leverage access, which lends the first half of the film a great deal of uneasy tension between the subject and the director. How many filmmakers WANT to advertise that their presence made their star itch?

The film still manages to pull a rabbit out of it's hat as Paul's life is explored in sometimes deep levels and other times very shallow ones (an effort to gloss over Paul's work for Alcoholics Anonymous is brushed off nearly as easily as Paul's early attempts to talk about his father). If it ain't about being in front of a camera the director is not interested in it. But in those moments that do manage to sneak through, those of us who HAVE met him briefly are relieved to find out he seems pretty much consistently the calm, patient and subtly brilliant man we perceive very early on.

That Paul had already gone through the painful journey of struggling through alcohol and substance abuse, it's also a bit harsh to see that the two main goals of the director are very mean-spirited... a sleepover and an effort to shock him by forcing him to watch a coked-up performance he gave, again, on camera. It's difficult to imagine considering yourself a huge fan of Paul's and then treating him in such a crass manner.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommend October 19, 2012
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
Overall, I'd give this a recommend if you are a Paul Williams fan, or someone who is curious about who Paul Williams was and is (given the fact that, as with any film, it is a "fake" reality that has been edited and organized to tell a story).

I think the blurb oversells the film a bit (it's not exactly rollicking and humorous), but I did find it solid, if not a little weird - because it is also about the filmmaker and how he is reacting to Paul Williams... I liked it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Alive November 8, 2012
By Barber
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
A MUST SEE for all Paul Williams fans. I really related to the films producer. I also related to Paul, because I am also in recovery.

He is clearly a musical genius.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dream date in kneepads February 5, 2013
"Paul Williams: Still Alive" begs the question: "Do I care?" Speaking for myself, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I "care" care, but I had enough morbid curiosity to pull me into this update on the oddball singer-songwriter-actor with the pageboy haircut who penned a slew of huge 70s hits ("We've Only Just Begun", "Rainy Days and Mondays", "An Old-Fashioned Love Song", "Evergreen"), appeared in a number of cult movies ("The Loved One", "Phantom of the Paradise"), became a fixture on the TV game show/talk show circuit, then disappeared. A wary Williams initially vacillates on whether he wants to be the subject of a "fly on the wall" study, but filmmaker (and professed super fan) Steven Kessler ingratiates himself after the men bond over a mutual love of squid (don't ask). What results is an alternately hilarious and sobering look at the ups and downs of this business we call "show". There are a few echoes of "Spinal Tap", particularly when Williams' wife decides to personally handle booking a Vegas engagement for her husband. In one priceless sequence, real life imitates "Ishtar" (for which Williams wrote the score for, ironically) when the neurotic, Woody Allen-ish Kessler reluctantly joins Williams for a gig in the Philippines that includes a long bus ride through jungles (allegedly) chock-a-block with Islamic terrorists. Kessler is on the verge of a panic attack for the entire trip; Williams remains quietly bemused. That's show biz...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great movie! Renewed my faith in people and people's ...
What a great movie!
Renewed my faith in people and people's resilience against marketing and self-indulgence. Read more
Published 1 day ago by J. Powell
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Alive and Still Interesting
I was always more of a fan Williams' songwriting than his singing--it's an acquired taste. But there's no denying he's creative, incredibly witty and an impressive presence... Read more
Published 9 days ago by James D. Long
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT documentery
I love anything with Paul Williams.
Published 1 month ago by Larry C. Copeland
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange little song writer
If you are a Paul Williams fan, you will find his life was very troubled with his real role in life and dealt with depression and lack of self confidence.
Published 1 month ago by D. Libby
3.0 out of 5 stars Would rather see a PBS American Masters special.
Not bad. The director shows us the human Paul, but not the genius. It's a good 84 minute film, for what it is, basically a home movie. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Koreatown Krooner
2.0 out of 5 stars Inept and annoying
Paul Williams is undeniably a great documentary subject - a notable songwriter, actor and TV personality with charm and wit and a tale to tell. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jason L. Daniel
2.0 out of 5 stars Would like more bio info
It is a satire on documentaries. About 70% is stupid action with maybe 30% bio material on Paul. Very disappointing. Would rather know more about Paul instead of the satire.
Published 4 months ago by B. Clements
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul Williams is still alive and i am glad that he is
caught this movie in the middle on tv and found interesting. Rented it with my wife, and we liked it a lot. Read more
Published 4 months ago by thomas cowling
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I wish all documentaries could have this much heart and soul. I was glad it was sincere and did not mock nor make fun of the great Paul Williams. What a sweet, touching movie.
Published 5 months ago by Jeff Clark
3.0 out of 5 stars Should have been better
Watching this, I thought it should have been better. Williams is one of those people who may be unrecognizable to anyone under 40, but for those of us who grew up in the 70s he... Read more
Published 6 months ago by secondadd
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