Bill Cunningham New York

One of a kind documentary about Bill Cunningham, a fashion photographer for The New York Times. More of a cultural anthropologist, he documents style as it happens out on the streets of New York City. His impromptu pictures have become a regular series of the newspaper for over 30 years. Half of the time we are treated to his fascinating snapshots that capture the true expression of a metropolis better than any runway show every could. The photos are of real people, stylish and flamboyant, captured for all the world to see. They are a celebration of the urban inhabitants, as well as the city itself. The other half of the time, we are presented with the portrait of a man, unassuming and utterly without pretension. He is distrustful of money, shunning monetary reward to a fault, riding from place to place on a Schwinn bicycle. He lives in a cramped studio apartment in Carnegie hall, packed to the ceiling with file cabinets of his negatives. A man who finds utter joy in his work capturing fashion and strangely little else it seems. His passion is remarkable. So exhaustive is his document that director Richard Press subtly suggests Cunningham’s equal importance among more celebrated luminaries like Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton in the field of fashion photography. To enjoy this film, you needn’t be fond of New York, nor do you have to appreciate photography. You don’t even need to have an interest in fashion. You simply must have a love for humanity. In other words, you should be human.

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7 Responses to “Bill Cunningham New York”

  1. Very good review, Mark! The movie looks interesting 🙂

    • Every year I see a few documentaries at the theater. I noticed you had already heard about this film. I only learned about this film a few hours before I saw it yesterday. I’m glad my friend recommended it. It’s rather short, but extremely interesting.

  2. The last documentary I watched was a Mexican production called “Presunto Culpable”. Amazing. Also loved “Waking Sleeping Beauty” and of course Catfish.

  3. Great review. I don’t know what more to add. Although, I hope he finds someone to love, soon. He’s 80, when he can’t ride or walk, he’s gonna be lonely.

    • I don’t think he’s lonely as long as he is doing what he loves. However, by most people’s standards, having lived a life and never fallen in love is kind of tragic.

  4. I got this on your (above) recommendation.

    Would you agree that, as an example of documentary technique, it barely rises above that of, say, Ken Burns and all those PBS-style conventionalizers. What saves it though and makes it special is the simple open-faced likeability of its subject. The opportunity to spend an hour and a half with a guy like Bill Cunningham is something anybody ought to take advantage of. In fact THIS (Tom Hanks, are you listening?) is who Forrest Gump SHOULD have been.

    • Agreed. Bill Cunningham is a fascinating subject. Perhaps a lot of people could have made an interesting documentary about him, but I appreciated director Richard Press’ execution all the same.

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