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Friday, September 16, 2011

Bill Cunningham New York Movie Review - NY Times Photographer

Bill Cunningham New York is a documentary film about a New York Times newspaper fashion photographer.  

I loved this documentary and I loved Bill Cunningham.  Bill Cunningham lives a very simple and austere lifestyle.  He resides in an apartment above Carnegie Hall. His home has no kitchen or bathroom (the bathroom is shared with other residents down the hall).   He does not have a car and rides his bike around New York all day long.  He has no significant other and does not seem to have any close friends.  He devotes his life night and day to photographing the clothes people while walking the streets of Manhattan.

Sounds like a crazy guy right?  Perhaps some inaccessible, curmudgeon artist? Dirty appearance, no money, critical of others?

Nope.  Not only does Bill Cunningham live a life that would make a Quaker feel like a sinner, he is a contradiction to his values, and I mean that in the most flattering way. Bill seems to love people. He enjoys their company, laughs constantly and genuinely is a guy you'd want to get to know.  Seriously, you'd feel good around this guy.

His life is about fashion, yet he is the least fashionable man in New York.  He repairs jackets with tape and doesn't even need a closet as he has so few clothes.

Bill not only takes pictures all day long of people walking the street, but he is also a high-fashion photographer rubbing elbows with some of the most famous and influential people in New York City.  Their fame and influence have no meaning to him though, only their clothes give him purpose.  He looks for originality in fashion and he doesn't seem to mind who wears it.

I've probably said too much about this documentary (I usually try not to say to much about the content of films but couldn't resist). The crime in stating too much about this film is that 'understatement' is really what makes this film so beautiful. 

 You'll love Bill, but you never really know him and the film preserves that by not resorting to countless banal questions about personal relationships like so many other films do.  This film has a purely beautiful character who exudes so much passion in life it is infectious. It makes you want to, as they say, suck-the-marrow out of life.  Bill's life is not for me, yet somehow I am envious.    Toward the end of the film, the only moment when the movie begins to very reservedly ask the 'tough' questions of Bill, I actually began to cringe at the idea of this man opening up his personal feelings aside from his work.  I was not disappointed though.

You should really check this film out.  I don't care if you don't like the New York Times, fashion, or photography. If you like documentary films about people choosing a path in life and sticking to it no matter what, you'll love it.

More Best Movie Reviews By TurtleDog 

Erotic Scenes In Mainstream Film Documentary Reviewed Here
 "True" Political Film Reviewed Here. Is This Flick For You?

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