Bill Cunningham New York
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Bill Cunningham New York
Richard Press's flattering, but never fawning portrait of New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham distinguishes itself from most other art and fashion documentaries. First of all, Cunningham doesn't produce work that ends up on gallery walls. Instead, his candid snapshots of the city's most fashionable citizens have graced the paper's Style section for decades. That accessibility, however, doesn't make the octogenarian any less of an artist. Navigating New York with his humble Schwinn, clad in his blue canvas jacket, Cunningham doesn't miss a trick or a trend. In an era when anyone can take a digital photo and upload it to the Internet, he still shoots on film, and style mavens pour through his columns, "On the Street" and "Evening Hours," to see what's hip and whether or not they made the cut. For all his talent, though, Cunningham, a devout Catholic, eschews free drinks and other perks, and has lived in the same humble Carnegie Hall studio for 50 years. Press injects some suspense into the scenario when circumstances force Cunningham out of this rent-controlled paradise. Fortunately, a solution will be forthcoming. Along the way, Bonfire of the Vanities author Tom Wolfe, Vogue editor Anna Wintour (star of the equally fine September Issue), and other observers offer their thoughts, though Press always returns to Cunningham, whose joie de vivre will surely prove irresistible even to those who normally couldn't care less about cameras and clothes. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Top Customer Reviews
Has a great eye for spotting gorgeous trends and comes off as a very down to earth human being.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Bill Cunningham, now in his 80's, has worked for many years as a street photographer, riding precariously around Manhatten on his bicycle and snapping (film) photos of what people are wearing. In an age when there is so much corruption in all walks of life, what comes out in the film is Cunningham's unique sense of personal integrity. In a city obsessed with status, he seems to care nothing for status or celebrity or personalities; he is only interested in the clothes, the ideas. When he attends society and fashion functions in the evening, which he does almost every evening, he declines to accept food or drink; it would compromise his ethics. Indeed here is a man who has no apparent vices and minimal personal life. He lives frugally. He strives to be honest. He strives to do no harm. He cares little for his comfort. He has simply made a life of observing how people in New York express themselves through fashion; it is enough for him. "I have tried to play a straight game" he says about his life.
One might not be surprised to hear that a medieval monk or pure mathematician or a scholar of ancient languages had such an ascetic and, one may say, spiritually refined existence, but in the New York fashion world! And so he is a beloved fixture in New York. An inspiring documentary, which affirms how one can live in the everyday world and yet hold to an "impeccable path."