Paul Simon’s Epic Documentary: Paul Simon had a desire for a documentary, inspired by his admiration for Alex Gibney’s 2015 film “Sinatra All or Nothing at All.” He approached the Oscar-winning director, known for “Taxi to the Dark Side,” with the idea of creating a documentary to coincide with the recording of his 15th album, “Seven Psalms,” released in 2023 on Owl Records and Legacy Recordings.
The documentary has a substantial runtime of three and a half hours, but to the surprise of the audience at the Princess of Wales theater, there was no restlessness in the air; instead, they enthusiastically gave Simon a standing ovation.
The result of this collaboration is “In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon,” which recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. We also recommend you to find out NSYNC’s Epic VMAs Reunion.
Onstage, Simon playfully admitted he didn’t have the courage to watch the entire film in the theater, prompting the crowd to rise to their feet for a second time. Simon couldn’t help but joke, “And it’s my birthday,” even though it was still October 13.
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“In Restless Dreams” takes a comprehensive look at Paul Simon’s music and career, effectively dividing itself into three distinct sections, or “verses,” as Gibney calls them. The first section delves into “Simon and Garfunkel,” spanning the duo’s early years.
The second section explores “Simon in the ’70s,” a period marked by his remarkable solo career and his iconic appearances on “Saturday Night Live.” Finally, the documentary delves deeply into “‘Graceland’ and beyond,” dedicating a significant portion of its runtime to the making of the acclaimed album “Graceland,” although some might argue it lingers too long on this chapter.
Throughout the film, viewers are treated to glimpses of Simon’s rustic recording studio, nestled outside his Texas country home, where he shares insights about his past, works on his 15th solo album, “Seven Psalms” (released four months ago)
And offers gems like, “Guitarists spend half their life tuning their guitar and the other half playing out of tune.” Notably, the documentary captures his collaboration with close friend Wynton Marsalis.
The question arises how should one consume “In Restless Dreams”? While it certainly works as a grand theatrical experience, particularly when viewed on an IMAX screen, a practical suggestion would be for a streaming platform like Apple to acquire the film.
Possibly present it in three parts, as a compelling mini-series. In this format, the movie’s leisurely and nostalgic storytelling style would be a perfect fit, as it becomes utterly captivating.
Gibney, the director, recognized the remarkable performance quality that Simon exhibited when the cameras were rolling. “When we showed up with our cameras, Paul as a performer raised his game,” Gibney noted. “He enjoyed the cameras because it got him out of his own head.”
Given the genre and length of the documentary, it makes sense for it to be considered for streaming acquisition, potentially even being split into multiple parts. However, Gibney defends the film’s extended duration, citing the importance of the story and the depth of the man’s career as justification.
He drew parallels to his own childhood experiences watching long movies like “Lawrence of Arabia” and believed that the film’s length was necessary to do justice to the narrative. Gibney also received positive feedback from director Rick Linklater, who expressed not wanting the film to end.
Ultimately, the documentary’s extended runtime is sustained by the enduring appeal of Paul Simon’s extensive body of work, which resonates with multiple generations of fans. His songs continue to be covered by contemporary artists like Rihanna and Vampire Weekend, cementing his status as a timeless artist. we also recommend you to check out Discover Wild Surprises.
Gibney lamented that he couldn’t include all of his favorite Simon songs in the film and revealed that the original cut was even longer at four and a half hours. For instance, there was an extensive segment on Simon’s Broadway musical.
“The Capeman,” which, despite being considered a “folly,” featured beautiful music, including demos of Simon collaborating with the legendary Carole King. However, with a runtime already exceeding three and a half hours, some content had to be omitted to keep the film manageable.