Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Film Review - "Bill Cunningham New York" directed by Richard Press

Bill Cunningham New York (2011)               ★ 1/2

This film deserves four stars simply for its spectacular cinematography and seamless editing. Press brings us right into the world of 82 year old renowned fashion photographer Bill Cunningham- in all aspects of his work and everyday life. We hear from prominent people in the fashion world and friends and colleagues of Cunningham. If anything, the film reminds us of the creative opportunities for fashion and photography in the 21st century.

What's interesting is how Cunningham distinguishes between interesting people and interesting outfits. He sees fashion as art arranged on the body and captures it so. His eccentricities are evident in everything from the minimalist way he lives (no kitchen, no proper bed)- to leaving conversations to photograph something outrageous. The octogenarian travels enthusiastically on his bike around New York, in rain or shine, snapping photos and dodging taxis at the same time. 

A major part of the film also focuses on his appearance at various New Yorkan social events - and it is here that we see how seriously he takes his job. Cunningham insists on not eating, and sends away even a glass of water - so that he can maintain a distance in his photography. The editing provides all sorts of perspectives- we hear from Bill alone, in front of the camera, but also get a sense of what he's like in a social sense.

This documentary rightly celebrates Cunningham's contribution to photography and the arts in New York- and instead of recounting his past achievements, it focuses on the present and his current job with the New York Times. It is really a snapshot of a day in the life of Bill and a great watch for any fan of fashion or the arts.

Visit Bill Cunningham's New York Times online page.

Bill on style: "A lot of people have taste but very few are daring to be creative."
Bill on money: "If you don't take money they can't tell you what to do...money is the cheapest thing. Freedom is the most expensive."
Bill on beauty: "He who seeks beauty...will find it."

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