Bill Cunningham New York
(Unrated, 1:24:22, Released 2010)
|Genres:||Musical & Performing Arts, Documentary|
|Release Date:||Mar 16, 2011|
|DVD Release Date:||Sep 19, 2011|
|Starring:||Tom Wolfe, Anna Wintour, Carmen Dell'Orefice, Kim Hastereiter, Brooke Astor, Annette De la Renta, Anna Piaggi, Annie Flanders, Editta Sherman, Patrick McDonald|
|Directed by:||Richard Press|
|Synopsis:||"We all get dressed for Bill," says Vogue editrix Anna Wintour. The "Bill" in question is 80+ New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham. For decades, this Schwinn-riding cultural anthropologist has been obsessively and inventively chronicling fashion trends and high society charity soirées for the Times Style section in his columns "On the Street" and "Evening Hours." Documenting uptown fixtures (Wintour, Tom Wolfe, Brooke Astor, David Rockefeller-who all appear in the film out of their love for Bill), downtown eccentrics and everyone in between, Cunningham's enormous body of work is more reliable than any catwalk as an expression of time, place and individual flair. In turn, Bill Cunningham New York is a delicate, funny and often poignant portrait of a dedicated artist whose only wealth is his own humanity and unassuming grace. -- (C) Zeitgeist films|
|Full movie details|
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Other Top Reviews
October 9, 2012
bill cunningham is a delight and it's a great inside look at the new york fashion world but i fear the film went too far in the end. there's a touching but uncomfortable bit of invasion of bill's privacy that i'm not entirely happy with. over all enjoyed it very much
fb791220692March 20, 2012
Like some of the best documentaries, Bill Cunningham New York is a human story - the tale of one man who almost embodies kindness and innocence. His enthusiastic personality is enough to make this film worth watching all on its own, but director Richard Press takes it to the next level by hinting at deeper themes of society's sameness versus individuality, the sad passage of time, modesty and the ability to find and create happiness. And while the world of fashion is probably very high on my list of things I really, really don't care about, the film and its quirky protagonist exude a warmth that is rare, especially in the cold heart of New York City.
November 15, 2011
'Bill Cunningham New York'. A fascinating, sad look at a man whose love for the fashion of everyday people has so wholly consumed his life.
You can't help but admire Bill Cunningham's drive, simplicity, strong-minded virtues, overwhelming passion and enthusiasm, but at what cost? He loves what he does so much, that he "doesn't have time" for a relationship or family. It had me questioning whether the balance is needed to lead a fulfilling life.
At one point, he's asked about music as an interest, and he says he goes to church every Sunday to listen to the music and half-jokingly "to repent!". He must be a conflicted individual inside, and it comes to the fore during those last, deeply personal questions.
October 21, 2011
So maybe part of the reason I love this so much is due to my obsession with old people - but bear with me! - Bill is one of a kind. He's discerning without being nasty, cute without being cloying, imbued with a heart of gold. It's amazing what this documentary captures, this quietly Catholic, relationship-less man with a passion for fashion who's not really interested in anything else, whether it be fine dining, gorgeous honeys, or clothing on himself. He's a human camera night and day but he loves it and New York loves him for it. This is such a KIND documentary.
May 1, 2011
One of a kind documentary about Bill Cunningham, a fashion photographer for The New York Times. More of a cultural anthropologist, he documents style as it happens out on the streets of New York City. His impromptu pictures have become a regular series of the newspaper for over 30 years. Half of the time we are treated to his fascinating snapshots that capture the true expression of a metropolis better than any runway show every could. The photos are of real people, stylish and flamboyant, captured for all the world to see. They are a celebration of the urban inhabitants, as well as the city itself. The other half of the time, we are presented with the portrait of a man, unassuming and utterly without pretension. He is distrustful of money, shunning monetary reward to a fault, riding from place to place on a Schwinn bicycle. He lives in a cramped studio apartment in Carnegie hall, packed to the ceiling with file cabinets of his negatives. A man who finds utter joy in his work capturing fashion and strangely little else it seems. His passion is remarkable. So exhaustive is his document that director Richard Press subtly suggests Cunningham's equal importance among more celebrated luminaries like Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton in the field of fashion photography. To enjoy this film, you needn't be fond of New York, nor do you have to appreciate photography. You don't even need to have an interest in fashion. You simply must have a love for humanity. In other words, you should be human.
October 6, 2012
This is a winning documentary about Bill Cunningham who started his epic career in fashion as a milliner. Now pushing 80, he takes photographs of people in the street in New York City for a Sunday New York Times fashion column.(As one person points out, he even works at his own party.) In his non-descript blue jacket, he is a blank canvas for New Yorkers to paint on, turning fashion away from something that is dicated from on high to a valuable means of individual expression, especially those horizontal heels. But I would have liked to have heard what his favorite neighborhoods are.
"Bill Cunningham New York" is also another look at a lost New York with him being one of the artists threatened with eviction from their offices in Carnegie Hall in 2009 in favor of more lucrative telemarketing offices. This is especially important for Cunningham since his cramped office also doubles as his living space. As you can see, he lives a modest life, not wanting to compromise himself, that also includes riding around the city on his bicycle with no helmet but a safety vest for the night. However, it looks like he may have no choice but to enter the 21st century through his presence on the Times' website.
February 13, 2012
**** out of ****
Bill Cunningham. That is the name of the legendary New York Times photographer; a man fascinated with fashion and trends in the cloths that the good people of the city have been wearing. Filmed sometime in 2010, the film follows Bill as he's pushing 80; and he hasn't lost trace of the enthusiasm and human kindness that defined him in the fields of both personality and business. I don't know everything about him as a man, but the deal here seems to be that people liked Bill and he liked them in return. This is a first-rate portrayal of a man who appears as if he's just happy to be alive.
If you didn't know who Bill Cunningham was before you either saw this review or saw the movie, no worries; we're essentially on the same page. However, I chose to flip through a few of the man's still photographs; each one more fascinating than the last. The photos are, ultimately, what convinced me to watch the documentary on the photographer that shot them as soon as I possibly could. It's the kind of movie where if you miss it, you'll never quite forgive yourself if you do decide to pick it up some time down the road.
The documentarian, Richard Press, takes us through Bill's life; piece by piece, photograph by photograph. We see his house, which is a small, condensed, but personally sufficient Carnegie Hall Studio. We see his office, which is just as easily an actual office - where he gives his works of art a final touch-up of digital magic before publication - as it is in the street, where Bill likes to ride his bike. His method of transportation is indeed one of the many things that made Bill Cunningham a name to cherish, remember, and honor.
As with most documentaries, there really isn't much of a straight-forward plot. These are documentations in their purest form possible; honest, gripping, intoxicating, and best of all, surprisingly insightful. Whether you know the name Bill Cunningham or not, there's something here for everyone to enjoy; "Bill Cunningham New York" (the name of the film) is simply fascinating, spotless, and just like the man that it is so proudly about, just happy to prosper.
Man, you'd have to be a real grouch not to enjoy the journey at least somewhat. Bill provides interesting, intelligent, passionate commentary on his art throughout the film; and he does so whilst being completely and utterly light as a feather. Anyone with a beating heart is bound to respond at least somewhat to this material; be it emotionally (I was touched by a scene in which Bill visited a run-way fashion show, sat on the sidelines instead of the photographers section, and had himself a merry old time while Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" illuminated the scene and brought it to the level of absolute memorability) or otherwise.
"Bill Cunningham New York" is one of the best films to get a 2011 release; and quite possibly the best documentary from that year. It has all the qualities of a classic work of movie magic in the making; what it lacks in spectacle, it makes up for in character. The documentary makes it perfectly clear that Bill Cunningham was completely human. He had riches, but he did not use them; he had women at his feet, forever admiring him, but he did not take advantage of the fact; and he had career hardships, but he didn't let them - or anything else- get the best of him. Bill Cunningham is a happy man, and I expect he remained so throughout his entire life. Wouldn't be much of a surprise to me, personally. I know I'd be pretty happy too, if I were granted the chance to do what I loved to do for an impressive paycheck, all while riding my bicycle and donning my poncho in the lovely, lovely rain.
March 14, 2011
Very good doc about a "Man On The Street" fashion photographer for more than 40 years. What makes this film so enjoyable is the likability of Bill Cunningham. He has a great personality,knowledge for his field, and has high morals in an industry that is lacking. Everyone who is anyone in the fashion industry seems enamored of Bill and they really value his opinion. What is interesting about this film is you spend all this time with Bill and by the end you realize you really don't know him and I don't think anybody does. He lives to work and because of this he doesn't seem to have any real connection with other humans, but it doesn't make him unlikable in any way. This doc is a lot of fun and at times very moving, even if you don't care about fashion,photography, or New York you will have a good time.
fb1241416636September 17, 2013
I didn't know what to expect, but I was blown away. A man who I never knew about, who's over 80 years old and head-over-heels in love with street fashion, is one of the most influential movers and shakers in New York. Not only that, but he's the most honest and humble man I've ever seen. Perhaps I enjoyed this film because I saw so many parallels to my own life - the complete love of the fabulous, the meager living, the eating out. I feel like I've been greatly educated about one of the greatest human beings who ever lived. I have nothing more to say. Watch this movie, become a better person.
January 31, 2013
Hard-hitting? Not exactly. But Bill Cunningham is the kind of joyous craftsman that gives workaholics a good name, when you stop putting yourself into your ambitions and they flow through you.
November 25, 2012
A biographical documentary of a fascinating fashion icon. Bill takes pictures of the clothes people wear, but not just any random clothes. It is the clothes that make people unique and not part of the conformist society. My favorite line was "I take pictures of the people who stand out and are different. Not of the celebrities who get their clothes for free."
He also spoke about money (paraphrase): "Money is cheap, and when you take it you are then obligated to whomever gave it to you. Never take the money and you will never be obligated or controlled."
These and many other of his philosophies in the film are truths, and for it we envy him for sticking to it and being an example to the world.
This film tells about his life so well that we love him and wish we had the passion he has. Like he said, it is hard to live a honest life in NY, but he is a great example of someone who comes as close as it gets to it. Because he lives by this, he is now well known, respected and is a success in many ways.
I am glad that I was told about this film and that I saw it.
February 5, 2012
I love documentaries about interesting people who do interesting things and live quiet, peculiar lives. This is one of the most beautiful films about a man and his all consuming passion.
fb609458593December 13, 2011
Here's a guy whose passions and peculiar lifestyle choices created a unique, one-of-a-kind body of work in the otherwise sleazy world of celebrity/style photography. You love him in this movie, Bill C., dashing about in his disheveled clothes from gala to street corner, and then holing up in a cubicle decorated with the filing cabinets that hold millions of images. A weird and wonderful character, told engagingly.
November 22, 2011
The definition of a "character" surrounded by characters. There are people who have quirks but they are affectations, Bill Cunningham just lives a pure life. And effects culture more than you would think.
November 18, 2011
How would you react if an 80-year-old man on a bicycle, wearing a simple blue shirt, stopped to take your photograph, perhaps of your feet? Most people would be startled, but if you were a New Yorker you would be honored because renowned New York Times columnist and fashion photographer Bill Cunningham has just snapped your photograph.
Cunningham has had two columns in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times for many years. Perhaps you have heard of them, "On the Street" and "Evening Hours"? But the fascinating thing about Bill Cunningham New York is not so much what Cunningham has accomplished as a journalist, but rather what he has accomplished as a human being. The film is not about fashion, it is not about photography, and it is not about famous people. It is about one simple man and his great passion for what he does.
Cunningham is not a photographer, nor is he truly a journalist. He is a fashion lover. That is where it starts and where it ends. It is not about the money, which he often declines because, he says, if you do not get paid no one can tell you what to do. It is not about the celebrities, as he never wants to see the guest list for the lush evening galas that he covers. He decides which to attend based on the charity instead, knowing that great fashion will abound no matter who is in attendance. For Bill Cunningham it is all about the clothes and nothing else. Fashion is his life. He was even caught snapping photos at an award ceremony in France honoring Cunningham. It is not work. It is his pleasure, he says.
The film only seems to get bogged down when it attempts to tell the stories of Cunningham's closest friends, who are often remarkable artists in their own right. But this only serves to distract from the true foundation and hook of the film: Bill. These scenes do add to the canvas of Cunningham's story, but very scarcely and fleetingly do they ever amount to the times when the focus is solely on Bill.
Cunningham lives in a very simple, very small Carnegie Hall studio apartment, which he has filled with filing cabinets and one small cot on which he sleeps. He never eats in, though he also never lavishly dines. He admits that in his 80 years of service to this planet as an outstanding human being he has never had a romantic relationship; he has not had the time. He also goes to church every Sunday, saying that he needs religion. These are little known facts for even those closest to Cunningham, who claim they knew nothing of his personal life, but treasure his public life and work.
Bill Cunningham is always smiling and always laughing, and perhaps that is because he knows he has gotten away with it. He has been able to do what he loves for so many years. And no one has called him on it because everybody recognizes the brilliance of his "work". Bill Cunningham New York is a successful documentary because Bill Cunningham is a successful human being, full of life, vigor and passion.
fb100000185985883November 12, 2011
Happy people are hard to come by nowadays. Bill Cunningham is one of the happiest people I've ever seen, and this movie will make you really, really happy right along with him. It's brisk, light, and also looks a little deeper into Bill Cunningham.
September 22, 2011
interesting doc on someone i had no idea who he was though i'm sure i've seen and been exposed to his stuff I just wasn't aware-now I am!