Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Bill Cunningham New York

The reason that I sit in a movie theater as often as I do is my eternal hope that every movie I watch will be so near perfect that it will just blow me away.  In reality it’s a rarity, but tonight was one such occasion.  Watching ‘Bill Cunningham New York’, a wonderful moving and intimate portrait of the 82 year old famed street fashion photographer and style arbiter/observer/commentator and seeing his singular passion for fashion and his wonderfully focused and uncluttered approach to life you could not help but be drawn in and be intoxicated by the infectious enthusiasm of the man.  But like many of the society grand dames Bill has photographed for years, and who consider him a friend, after over 2 hours we actually learn sparingly few personal details about this enigmatic man.

You don’t have to be a follower of fashion to appreciate Bill’s legendary style columns in the New York Times each Sunday, which consist of whole series of photographs he has randomly taken on the streets of the city, and which show his enormous talent for spotting something that is both fascinating and interesting.  Anna Wintour, Editor of American Vogue, credits Bill with often picking up on a street fashion trend that none of her enormous team of top fashion experts have noticed.  And as Bill is a habitué at all the major Fashion Shows snapping both on and off the catwalk, Ms. Wintour often a subject added, ‘we all get dressed up for Bill’.  And so they all do, from the rich and famous to the wild and wacky eccentrics that so love the cache of being featured in one of Bills columns, although to him it’s not the celebrities (‘in their free clothes’ he disparagingly comments) that interest him at all but the fabrics, the shapes, the textures …. he just loves fashion and has a brilliant eye in spotting it.


The behind the scenes look we do get, show Bill’s home in the one of the very last tiny Studios in Carnegie Hall where the filing cabinets that store a lifetime of negatives take up all the room.  Visiting his neighbor 98 year old Editta Sherman a wonderful totally eccentric but stunningly talented photographer reminds us that like the apartments they are being evicted from, their way of life is from a bygone age, and one that will never be repeated again in the future.

This compelling movie about such an intriguing and exceptionally likable man with his singular obsession and a real joie de vivre was a real delight to watch, and full credit to first-time filmmaker for Richard Press for following Bill around for two years and then editing so creatively by interspersing it with interviews from such an array of fascinating and so diverse characters …. too many to mention here.

Tomorrow I’m off to see ‘Square Grouper’ a movie about that all the pot-heads have been raving about.  But for me there could be no better high, than watching Bill Cunningham.  It needs seeing at least once.

Posted by queerguru  at  01:35



Genres:  documentary

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