Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bill Cunningham New York

Last night, I went to see the movie Bill Cunningham New York. Loved it. Loved. It. Why do I always forget that I love documentaries about the lives of interesting individuals? You'd think, what with my obituary obsession, I might actually want to see these people before they're, you know, dead.

Bill Cunningham is a fashion photographer for the NY Times, now 80 years old, still toodling around New York on his Schwinn bicycle, standing on the street for hours to take photos of fashion. As one person put it, "He's like a war photographer; he'll do anything to get the shot." And his eye is amazing. Things I would look at and just think, 'how odd,' he says, 'how beautiful'. And once he shows you, you see how beautiful it really is.

It reminded me strongly of another portrait film, Herb and Dorothy. I guess I'm just fascinated by people who know what they like and really could give a rip what anyone else thinks.

Just this morning I was reading a chapter in Brene Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection on Creativity, and she talks about "the comparison mandate" which stifles it.

The comparison mandate becomes this crushing paradox of "fit in and stand out!" It's not cultivate self-acceptance, belonging, and authenticity; it's be just like everyone else, but better.

Bill Cunningham is not like anyone else, and he's not interested in the people who are like anyone else. I think the greatest thing about this film is that it made me want to be more...me.

If you can go see it, do. Here's the trailer.

2 comments:

Molly said...

It's also a great reflection on being visible and invisible at the same time. Bill Cunningham is, as one French fashion director says, "the most important man in the world!" and yet no one knows anything about him -- where he lives, how he lives, whether he's happy, etc. Cunningham is a fascinating character, and an endless mystery.

it's margaret said...

Oh --looks good! thank you!