“We all get dressed for Bill.”
- Anna Wintour
Here’s what I wrote about this one in my theatrical review:
“You may not know the name, but it is highly likely that those with even a passing interest in The New York Times know the pictures. Bill Cunningham writes two columns for the paper, columns he’s been penning for an extremely long portion of his 80-plus years on the planet. They appear in the ‘Style’ section. They are amongst the most read, looked at and talked about pieces in the entire paper.
Personally, I never knew who Bill Cunningham was – is – before watching Richard Press’ marvelously entertaining documentary Bill Cunningham New York. I didn’t know he was the guy who took all of those amazing and perceptive photos for the ‘On the Street’ column. It never occurred to me to look at the by-line as the pictures almost always seem to speak for themselves, but now that I know it’s been the same guy taking them for the past few decades my respect, my awe, almost knows no bounds.
Seriously, for a talking heads doc about a guy riding a Schwinn around the streets of the Big Apple taking pictures of women’s skirt trends and fabulously coifed idiosyncratic personalities this is about as perceptive, and as surprisingly moving, a motion picture as I’ve seen so far this year. The movie has a refreshing allure that goes beyond fashion, beyond journalism, moving from moment to moment and scene to scene with a remarkable precision that is as emotional as it is fascinating.
Plenty of people show up to extol the virtues of Cunningham’s work, not the least of which are Vogue editor Anna Wintour (“We all get dressed for Bill,” she says at one point, and by the laser-eyed look she gives to the camera you know she means it), Tom Wolfe, David Rockefeller and Brooke Astor, but they’re almost unnecessary as the photographer has a refreshingly honest way of speaking for himself. He’s open to the point of nakedness, taking every question in jovial stride even ones pertaining to his tumultuous living situation in the legendary Carnegie artist studios.
Well, every question save one, and what happens when it is asked is best left to be discovered without my hinting at either subject matter or response. It is an ethereal moment, transcendent in its brevity and its silence. The thoughts going through Cunningham’s head my not be spoken aloud but all of them can be immediately read, this sterling scene stopping my breath cold the very second it happens.
I loved Bill Cunningham New York. I found it moving, thought-provoking, emotional and very entertaining, and as far as 2011’s docket of documentaries are concerned it immediately jumps to the head of the pack and will undoubtedly be one of the few I’m still waxing poetic about by the time we get to December.”
Bill Cunningham New York holds up splendidly and proves to be incredibly worth watching more than once. It’s awesome, plain and simple, and I’m extremely happy to have it as part of my personal Blu-ray collection.
Bill Cunningham New York is presented on a single-layer 25GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.78:1 1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and features optional English SDH subtitles.
Extras here are pretty limited, but the disc does contain over 18 minutes of Deleted Scenes all of which very easily could have been inserted into the film itself. The Original Theatrical Trailer (2:05) is also included.
Bill Cunningham New York is a superb documentary that holds up beautifully on repeat viewings. Zeitgeist Films initial foray into the Blu-ray world is equally strong, the movie getting a fairly solid presentations fans should be more than pleased with.