Bill Cunningham New York


Bill Cunningham New York

Critics Consensus

Suffused with happiness and modest charm, Bill Cunningham New York offers a touching, gently humorous portrait of its subject without invading his jealously guarded privacy.



Total Count: 73


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,028
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Movie Info

"We all get dressed for Bill," says Vogue editrix Anna Wintour. The "Bill" in question is 80+ New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham. For decades, this Schwinn-riding cultural anthropologist has been obsessively and inventively chronicling fashion trends and high society charity soirées for the Times Style section in his columns "On the Street" and "Evening Hours." Documenting uptown fixtures (Wintour, Tom Wolfe, Brooke Astor, David Rockefeller-who all appear in the film out of their love for Bill), downtown eccentrics and everyone in between, Cunningham's enormous body of work is more reliable than any catwalk as an expression of time, place and individual flair. In turn, Bill Cunningham New York is a delicate, funny and often poignant portrait of a dedicated artist whose only wealth is his own humanity and unassuming grace. -- (C) Zeitgeist films

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Critic Reviews for Bill Cunningham New York

All Critics (73) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (72) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for Bill Cunningham New York

  • Oct 06, 2012
    This is a winning documentary about Bill Cunningham who started his epic career in fashion as a milliner. Now pushing 80, he takes photographs of people in the street in New York City for a Sunday New York Times fashion column.(As one person points out, he even works at his own party.) In his non-descript blue jacket, he is a blank canvas for New Yorkers to paint on, turning fashion away from something that is dicated from on high to a valuable means of individual expression, especially those horizontal heels. But I would have liked to have heard what his favorite neighborhoods are. "Bill Cunningham New York" is also another look at a lost New York with him being one of the artists threatened with eviction from their offices in Carnegie Hall in 2009 in favor of more lucrative telemarketing offices. This is especially important for Cunningham since his cramped office also doubles as his living space. As you can see, he lives a modest life, not wanting to compromise himself, that also includes riding around the city on his bicycle with no helmet but a safety vest for the night. However, it looks like he may have no choice but to enter the 21st century through his presence on the Times' website.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 20, 2012
    Like some of the best documentaries, Bill Cunningham New York is a human story - the tale of one man who almost embodies kindness and innocence. His enthusiastic personality is enough to make this film worth watching all on its own, but director Richard Press takes it to the next level by hinting at deeper themes of society's sameness versus individuality, the sad passage of time, modesty and the ability to find and create happiness. And while the world of fashion is probably very high on my list of things I really, really don't care about, the film and its quirky protagonist exude a warmth that is rare, especially in the cold heart of New York City.
    Sam B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 06, 2012
    **** out of **** Bill Cunningham. That is the name of the legendary New York Times photographer; a man fascinated with fashion and trends in the cloths that the good people of the city have been wearing. Filmed sometime in 2010, the film follows Bill as he's pushing 80; and he hasn't lost trace of the enthusiasm and human kindness that defined him in the fields of both personality and business. I don't know everything about him as a man, but the deal here seems to be that people liked Bill and he liked them in return. This is a first-rate portrayal of a man who appears as if he's just happy to be alive. If you didn't know who Bill Cunningham was before you either saw this review or saw the movie, no worries; we're essentially on the same page. However, I chose to flip through a few of the man's still photographs; each one more fascinating than the last. The photos are, ultimately, what convinced me to watch the documentary on the photographer that shot them as soon as I possibly could. It's the kind of movie where if you miss it, you'll never quite forgive yourself if you do decide to pick it up some time down the road. The documentarian, Richard Press, takes us through Bill's life; piece by piece, photograph by photograph. We see his house, which is a small, condensed, but personally sufficient Carnegie Hall Studio. We see his office, which is just as easily an actual office - where he gives his works of art a final touch-up of digital magic before publication - as it is in the street, where Bill likes to ride his bike. His method of transportation is indeed one of the many things that made Bill Cunningham a name to cherish, remember, and honor. As with most documentaries, there really isn't much of a straight-forward plot. These are documentations in their purest form possible; honest, gripping, intoxicating, and best of all, surprisingly insightful. Whether you know the name Bill Cunningham or not, there's something here for everyone to enjoy; "Bill Cunningham New York" (the name of the film) is simply fascinating, spotless, and just like the man that it is so proudly about, just happy to prosper. Man, you'd have to be a real grouch not to enjoy the journey at least somewhat. Bill provides interesting, intelligent, passionate commentary on his art throughout the film; and he does so whilst being completely and utterly light as a feather. Anyone with a beating heart is bound to respond at least somewhat to this material; be it emotionally (I was touched by a scene in which Bill visited a run-way fashion show, sat on the sidelines instead of the photographers section, and had himself a merry old time while Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" illuminated the scene and brought it to the level of absolute memorability) or otherwise. "Bill Cunningham New York" is one of the best films to get a 2011 release; and quite possibly the best documentary from that year. It has all the qualities of a classic work of movie magic in the making; what it lacks in spectacle, it makes up for in character. The documentary makes it perfectly clear that Bill Cunningham was completely human. He had riches, but he did not use them; he had women at his feet, forever admiring him, but he did not take advantage of the fact; and he had career hardships, but he didn't let them - or anything else- get the best of him. Bill Cunningham is a happy man, and I expect he remained so throughout his entire life. Wouldn't be much of a surprise to me, personally. I know I'd be pretty happy too, if I were granted the chance to do what I loved to do for an impressive paycheck, all while riding my bicycle and donning my poncho in the lovely, lovely rain.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 15, 2011
    'Bill Cunningham New York'. A fascinating, sad look at a man whose love for the fashion of everyday people has so wholly consumed his life. You can't help but admire Bill Cunningham's drive, simplicity, strong-minded virtues, overwhelming passion and enthusiasm, but at what cost? He loves what he does so much, that he "doesn't have time" for a relationship or family. It had me questioning whether the balance is needed to lead a fulfilling life. At one point, he's asked about music as an interest, and he says he goes to church every Sunday to listen to the music and half-jokingly "to repent!". He must be a conflicted individual inside, and it comes to the fore during those last, deeply personal questions.
    c0up   Super Reviewer

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