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Bill Cunningham New York is a warmly pleasant biopic about a legendary fashion photographer for the New York Times. Its best to describe it as a film centering around Bill’s presence in the NYC fashion scene, as it doesn’t much talk about his artistic strategies or fashion taste nearly as much as it presents Bill’s passion for capturing the trend on the street.
Its an admirable film for the likeability of its main subject, who puts his work before everything. It was a shockingly heartwarming for me to see how Bill rejected being paid for several jobs, just to keep the message straight: that he was working for himself and no one else. Such passion is a rarity, and an inspiration. The selflessness that Bill exudes, working not to be admired, but simply for the joy of creation and organization, makes this film artistically motivating to watch.
For those with little interest in fashion, know that I am jaded; my mother made clothes for herself and a store before I was born, and after, I was the willing victim of fashion discussions and frequent shopping trips, always jealous of the greater diversity and flexibility in women’s fashion. Yet, the film is more a story of Bill Cunningham’s work ethic, and journalistic talk is just as frequent as clothes talk.
The film itself was laid out in a patient yet intriguing manner, and didn’t linger on anything for too much screen-time. I liked the duality of looking at Bill’s work outings and his home life, which amounted to a discussion of his controversial residence in Carnegie Hall. Though some things in the film seem to be superfluous, everything is entertaining and interesting. For someone to say anything bad about this film would be sacrilege. To say anything against the upbeat and joyful Bill Cunningham would be a moral offense. So please, for guaranteed heartwarming, go see this movie.