PAUL WILLIAMS: STILL ALIVE screens Monday 2/18 at the Ritz as part of the Music Monday series. There is also an encore on Saturday 2/23. Buy those tickets here.
Paul Williams is unquestionably one of the greatest songwriters of last century and there was a time in the 1970s that everywhere you looked, you saw Paul Williams.
From Brian De Palma’s PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE to his songs for THE MUPPETS ("Rainbow Connection, anybody?), his songwriting made him an international superstar. However, the congenial and jovial Paul Williams that the public knew back then was a far different character than his offstage persona, one that relied heavily on drugs and alcohol to maintain a high-functioning rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. As a result, Williams faded into the ether and seemingly disappeared from pop relevance.
Director Stephen Kessler, touched by Williams’ music, learns that he is in fact still alive and so reaches out to him about making a documentary. Initially an objective flashback on a life lived and fame given up for mental health, PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE becomes something altogether different, a film essay where the director is as much part of the narrative as the subject himself.
Williams and Kessler evoke a strained, if amiable, relationship that is hilariously genuine and that gradually reveals how a man whose ego spun out of control has harnessed his demons, remained sober, and now celebrates life. (Sam Prime)