Review: Bill Cunningham New York DVD

STUDIO: Zeitgeist | DIRECTOR: Richard Press
9/13/2011 | PRICE: DVD $29.99
BONUSES: bonus footage
SPECS: NR | 84 min. | Documentary | 16:9 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Bill Cunningham New York movie scene

The photographer takes photographs in Bill Cunningham New York.

An exhilarating portrait of New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, the wonderful documentary Bill Cunningham New York chronicles the indefatigable 80-year-old in his daily quest to snap people wearing fashionable clothing on the streets of Manhattan. Pedaling a 10-speed Schwinn bicycle in and out of traffic in his trademark blue jacket, Cunningham stops to capture everyday folks in the street during the day, and socialites and celebrities who attend charity events and galas at night.

In his impressive feature film debut, director Richard Press follows Cunningham’s routine and his hands-on approach to laying out his newspaper columns, and for good measure makes time for a trip to Paris where the photographer receives an award. Press also follows Cunningham as he looks for a new place to live after he and others are forced to leave their rent-controlled Carnegie Hall apartments.

Cunningham’s engagingly no-nonsense demeanor and narration, anecdotes and old fashioned/high fashion philosophies will win viewers over immediately, as they did for viewers at the box office, where the film made an made an impressive $1.5 million.

Adding to this celebratory, gently probing look at this lively and at times mysterious senior citizen are his photos, archival interviews and comments by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, writer Tom Wolfe, Details Magazine founder Annie Flanders and legendary club kid Kenny Kenny.

As a bonus feature, the DVD includes 20 minutes of excised footage, including a bit that looks at Cunningham’s use of film and not the newer digital technologies. Also part of the package is a 12-page booklet featuring samples of Cunningham’s Times columns and a statement from director Press.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.