Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Movie Review: Bill Cunningham New York

"After Memorial Day: White Rules"- so says Bill Cunningham's Facebook page

How did this unassuming octogenarian fashion and society columnist get to be the subject of an indie-esq documentary, and the arbiter of fashion? When you consider too that he hasn't much of a taste for fashion this is particularly remarkable.

It appears the answer is decency. Yes, decency and kindness in NYC no less. And also a laser like focus on his work. This is someone who has devoted his life to covering fashion and society. And remains fully engaged after decades on the job. He lives alone in a small studio at Carnegie Hall, rides a red Schwinn through the streets of Manhattan, and sartorially speaking dons the same uniform daily. Remarkable? Quite!

This is a sampling of the persona examined in Bill Cunningham: New York from Zeitgeist Films. I was initially drawn to this film from some years of enjoying his column in the Sunday NYT. Further intrigued when a good friend, HK, sent her highest recommendation. Added bonus- a trip to Chicago's Music Box Theater.

What did I find? A touching (seriously) portrayal of a gentleman (I use that word in its truest sense), who is utterly devoted to a profession and life that he loves. Elements of his personal life are addressed, and it is done so in a gracious manner. Respectful in every way.

From my own experience, Bill Cunningham's person embodies the best of his generation. That is a commitment to service, decency, humility and relationships. I think there is something for us all to take from this portrayal. One last bit of wisdom Bill imparts- 'If you look closely enough for beauty, eventually you will find it [sic]'.

The verdict: enjoyable in every sense!

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