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Bill Cunningham New York (2011) Reviews
#958 in DVD

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    Recommended? You Betcha!
    April 19, 2011

    Who hasn't seen legendary New York Photographer Bill Cunningham's gorgeous spreads in New York Magazine or listened to his gravelly voiced podcasts played over sideshows of colourful street fashion photos taken that week? If you haven't, you must because this 82 year old legend is the true definition of an artist and you will probably fall in love with him.

    I was lucky to attend a screening held by the Flist to see this documentary, which was 10 years in the making. The doc follows introvert Bill Cunningham as he peddles around on his bicycle on the streets of New York, obsessively snapping shots of outfits he finds stylish or out of the ordinary. The subjects are generally not models, they are regular fashionable folk who break the conventional cookie cutter mold of 'sameness'.

    Anna Wintour appears to gush about the man who has been photographing her for over 20 years. As she put it, if Bill doesn't try to take a photo of you, it is "death".

    You will be fascinated by his story and in particular, his lack of materialism - especially given the his chosen subject matter which brings him so much joy. Here is a man who wears the same cheap blue shirt every day as worn by city of New York workers. "I like the pockets". He tapes together a plastic rain poncho that has fallen apart ("why replace it when you can repair it?") and literally has 3 hangers hanging in his closet. He has refused large payouts because he doesn't want anyone to "own" him, and refuses to eat or even drink water at events he is invited to photograph at because "I eat with my eyes".

    All in all, it is a profoundly interesting documentary. Not only will you fall in love with Bill, you will be enchanted by the eclectic mix of characters he socializes with and photographs. Highly recommended.

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