Film: Bill Cunningham New York

Watch “Bill Cunningham New York” in the 8th floor classroom. This is the final film we’ll see. Write a comment below with your thoughts on some aspect of the film.

{ 04/11/2012    4 Week 7   

10 responses to “Film: Bill Cunningham New York”

  1. Andrew says:

    I love this movie. Saw it last year or so when it came out, and I really like the candid, documentary style that reflects the way that Bill photographs. It’s rough, mostly without tripods or HD cameras. The movie makes a real effort to delve into the strange, odd world of Cunningham, to get inside his head and talk about his life and the way he photographs and lives. Really excellent exploration of a fascinating character.

  2. Claire says:

    i really appreciated his collection process & the way he has a bunch of ideas building up at once. the images were all super rich & inevitably disappear too quickly when passed through this film.

    it’s difficult to relate to his disinterest in money, but the way he explained why he doesn’t touch food at events or feel like there’s time for romance made his behavior seem completely reasonable. he said “if you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do”.

    “fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. i don’t think you could do away with it. it would be like doing away with civilization.” it could be viewed as ironic that bill doesn’t look more like the dandy guy but he is extremely practical, in his apparel & his apartment.

  3. Hallie says:

    It’s interesting to me that Bill Cunningham lives for fashion, but does not participate in it via his own attire, like Claire mentioned. He applauds his subjects for individuality and creativity of dress, and for not looking like a million other people, but he himself has worn the same practical blue jacket and modest street-sweeper’s shirt for years. He is a collector and curator, which is a valuable art in its own right, rather than a producer. Then I think of the graphic designer in the film, dragging and resizing photos at Bill’s over-the-shoulder suggestion, and think how the designer is one more step removed from the act of producing the content displayed. Is our role as designers producers, curators, or both? Is it even possible to successfully be both?

  4. Sang says:

    Bill, genuine and warm-hearted with a charming smile __ flower patterned shadows. A man who is brave enough to be honest with himself in this catastrophic world — especially in a S/S F/W seasonal fashion world full of surface spectacles. Not blinded by the will of the others but finding peace within himself with a deeply rooted passion. Yes, not-yet-found beauty will come to one who seeks for it with an open mind and curious hands.

  5. Micah says:

    The reverence for the subject was a fantastic theme running through this film. Not only did Bill have a great and focused appreciation for the subjects he was photographing but the filmmakers had a similar level of respect and appreciation for Bill. The film was mostly absent of music which wasn’t something I noticed at all until music was introduced and seemed out of place and hokey. This allowed Bill’s personality to come through and let the narrative build around him.

    I really appreciated the narrative structure that the filmmakers employed to tell a comprehensive story about a very long and accomplished career. By breaking the story down into themes like impact, process, personal life, ethics and legacy and taking the viewer through these themes around the central activity of Bill laying out one of his famous pages there was a really powerful connection between what the interviewees were saying about Bill and the viewer being able to see it in action.

  6. Angela says:

    Bill is definitely a really amazing peculiar person. It was interesting to see how he’s involved with fashion of every social class, but he himself doesn’t participate. I felt like the film also reflected the raw candidness of Bill and held respect for him by not prying when he didn’t want to be.

    On a side note, as a person who has grown up with technology everywhere, I find it amazing that he didn’t switch over to digital photography or even learn how to use InDesign to do his spreads. It was an interesting contrast to see the lives of back then and now. Not only that but how people back then are coping with work with all this new technology. I almost wished for the filmmaker to ask about that and if it ever affects the way he worked.

  7. Megan says:

    I didn’t know who Bill Cunningham was before this film. I find it really inspiring that he has continued within the same methods as when he started out so long ago, and that he is 80 in this film and can still ride a bike around New York without dying! I couldn’t do that. I love that he still sticks to the methods that work for him: the analog camera and actually developing photographs… I mean it’s really rare that people don’t move to newer technologies, because they find them easier and quicker and better overall. Bill sticks to his analog camera, and I’m assuming it’s because he sees no reason to change, as he knows and loves it. I admire that a lot.

    I always enjoy learning about people who truly love what they do, because they have never actually worked a day in their life. It’s obvious that Bill is one of those people. However I was a little sad for him towards the end, it seems as though he may have worked so much that he missed out on some wonderful things in life… (like having a serious relationship). At the same time however, he seems so incredibly happy as an individual, maybe the “work” really is what makes him enjoy life.

  8. Yo-E says:

    Bill photographs life. In spite of all the roles he has–as an artist, designer, photographer, critic, curator, story-teller, bicycle messenger, archiver, historian–in the end, he is just one person who simply lives his own life he loves. This film genuinely asks me to look back on myself and find my honest curiosity and passion. “there’s no short-cut! you’ve got to stay out there and see what it is!”

  9. Ellery says:

    I love this guy. And this movie. He is a wise man with a great sense of humor and outlook on life. I think the filmmakers did an excellent job echoing and building off of his humorous and upbeat attitude. I love when he says “Why would anyone want a kitchen and a bathroom?”, knowing quite well that he is probably the only person who doesn’t. Even when Bill isn’t talking, the video clips reveal the same quirkiness. When the camera is following him through the streets we are shown a short clip of him cutting off a taxi or bumping into one. When interviewed about Bill, Iris Apfel, (The Lady with the Glasses), is stroking her jewelry-wearing stuffed animals and Annette de la Renta’s sleeping dog is the only thing you can look at. The film does a great job of picking out the telling moments from all the rest, echoing the process of bill’s photographic work. Rather than creating new content, as Hallie spoke about, they simply uncover what is already there: a story worth telling.

  10. Helen says:

    His buoyancy in the ability to capture natural quirks without obsessive manipulation – the still life – is highly regarded. High on life, and high on the rapid flow of the city, he is not self-conscious and is not consumed with the immediate results of his snap shots. There is no time or no room to scrutinize every action.

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