May 23, 2024

Paul Simon felt nothing but pity for the audience after a three and a half hour documentary about his life.

After the Toronto International Film Festival’s Sunday screening of Alex Gibney’s “In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon,” Simon informed the audience, “You’re probably fatigued.

Simon, who is 81 years old, didn’t watch the movie before it came out, and he didn’t watch it on Sunday either. He assured her, “I’ll find the courage to see it, no doubt.”

The film, which is vying for distribution at TIFF, takes a comprehensive look at Simon’s decades-long career, from his years with Art Garfunkel growing up in Queens, New York, through the triumph of his 1986 album “Graceland,” which he co-wrote with South African artists.

Simon’s most recent album, “Seven Psalms,” which was published in May, also features on “In Restless Dreams,” which gets its name from a line in “The Sound of Silence” (“In restless dreams I walked alone”).

He claims that the album, his first in a number of years, was inspired by a dream he had in 2019 in which he saw a collection of seven songs. Simon’s left ear hearing loss made his work at his Wimberly, Texas, home studio more challenging and disrupted his creative equilibrium.

In a post-screening Q&A, Simon spoke to the audience about his hearing loss and said, “I haven’t accepted it entirely, but I’m beginning to.”

Simon got in touch with Gibney, the seasoned filmmaker behind “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” and “Taxi to the Dark Side,” after liking his 2015 film “Sinatra: All or Nothing at All.” Even though it took some getting used to, Simon was happy to let Gibney create a story around his life.

Simon stated, “Having the truth about me revealed by an observer is quite exciting to me. “I believe I’m not the best candidate to explain what the truth is. I have prejudice on both sides. I think too highly of myself and detest myself so much that I’d rather let someone else record it.

Simon said that he hoped some of his early recording sessions, such as those for the 1970 albums “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Graceland,” had been documented on video. There is some unusual footage in “In Restless Dreams,” such as 16mm dailies from the production of the 1969 documentary “Songs of America” and early “Graceland” rehearsals.

Simon finally admitted that he is still writing music and recently finished a new tune after some pushing. He continues to have ideas throughout the night as well.

Simon remarked, “The other night I dreamed again,” to cheers. I had a dream that I should write a song called “It’s What’s His Name.”

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