SIFF 2012 – Paul Williams: Still Alive ***1/2

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on May 19, 2012)

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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 70s hits (“We’ve Only Just Begun”, “Rainy Days and Mondays”, “An Old-Fashioned Love Song”, “Evergreen”), appeared in  cult movies (The Loved One, Phantom of the Paradise), became a fixture on the TV game show/talk show circuit…then disappeared.

Initially, Williams 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. What results is an alternately hilarious and sobering look at the ups and downs of this business we call “show”.

Real life imitates Ishtar when the Woody Allen-esque Kessler reluctantly joins Williams as he travels overseas 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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