Bill Cunningham New York (2010)

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Released 7-Mar-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Additional Footage
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 81:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Press

Madman Entertainment
Starring Bill Cunningham
Tom Wolfe
Anna Wintour
Carmen Dell'Orefice
Annette De la Renta
Mrs. Vincent Astor
John Kurdewan
Iris Apfel
Josef Astor
Editta Sherman
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Great documentaries come in many forms. There are those which shock us to the core, exposing the world previously hidden like The Cove and Taxi to the Dark Side. Then there are those like Bill Cunningham New York which take a gentle look at a person's life, someone you didn't even know existed, bringing them into such sharp focus that you wonder why the film was never made earlier.

     Bill Cunningham is a man in his early 80s. For more years than anyone can remember he has been documenting and celebrating the lives of fashionable New Yorkers. His style columns in the New York Times "On the Street "and "Evening Hours" are chronicles of the here and now-the people and what they are wearing. If this sounds like the hunting grounds of the paparazzi or the social butterfly nothing could be further from the truth where Bill Cunningham is concerned. All those years he has travelled from uptown soirées to downtown new fashion shows on his trusty bicycle. Though known to everybody and friendly to all he doesn't socialise with those he photographs and refuses to accept even a drink of water at the lavish charity functions he frequents.

     The documentary, by Richard Press and produced by Philip Gefter, is an amazing and heartfelt examination of this living legend, as he moves into old age. So far that hasn't stopped Bill from keeping up his weekly column chronicling the life on the streets. He is, he admits, the only person on the New York Times staff still using a film camera. The film brings together some Cunningham admirers including Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Famously saying that "we all get dressed for Bill" Wintour is open in her admiration for Cunningham. He is beloved by all for his simple adherence to a key rule-he is never photographing celebrities but only the clothes they wear. Although he travels to the French fashion shows his interest is really only piqued by those clothes which will be worn on the streets. He has no truck with fashion designed only for models to parade.

     Even those with no interest in fashion will find this documentary captivating. Bill is such a warm and engaging character, so full of life in his 80s, that we can't help but be swept up by his enthusiasm. His real life is unbelievably quirky. At the time of filming the documentary he was one of the last few residents of Carnegie Hall fighting to stop themselves being evicted to make way for offices. Fellow resident and muse of Andy Warhol, Sherman, herself in her late 90s, is another interesting and exotic presence in the film. She was a profile photographer shooting publicity shots of the great Hollywood stars. Now she and Cunningham are the last of their eccentric breed.

     A life lived amongst fashion ought to have paid off in terms of Cunningham's own dress sense and surroundings. Instead he dresses in a utilitarian fashion and lives in a manner that is best discovered by the viewer rather than spoilt in a review. There is humour and joy throughout but also some genuinely tear-jerking moments such as at a Paris fashion show when Bill is getting out-muscled by a bunch of beautiful people to get in the door. An organizer grabs him and pulls him through, telling the door person " this is the most important person in the World".

     A must-see documentary.

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Transfer Quality


     Bill Cunningham New York was shot on digital video. It comes to DVD in a 1.78:1 transfer. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     The film looks good. It was shot on the fly by the director and producer and a couple of film makers so it doesn't attempt to look pristine but there are no technical problems to mention. The colours are bright and stable. The film features talking heads interviews and these are also well rendered.

     Documentary fans will have nothing to complain about with this transfer.

     There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired and some burned -in subtitles where the sound is indistinct.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Bill Cunningham New York features two soundtracks. Both are English Dolby Digital. One is a 5.1 448 Kb/s mix and the other a 2.0 224 Kb/s mix. Both a perfectly serviceable.

     The film really consists of dialogue (there is no narration). The dialogue is well handled and easy to hear and understand.

     Music is used sparingly and as background through the film though there is a prominent use of I'll Be Your Mirror from The Velvet Underground.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Twelve Additional Scenes

     Extras include 12 additional scenes. Each of these scenes has merit and some are essential such as Bill saying that he is the only person at The Times to still use film and the troubles he now has getting it developed. The story behind his first fashion photo, of an elusive Garbo in her dotage, is also interesting. There is a lot of extra interview material with the always interesting Anna Wintour. She makes a point when she suggests than because Bill is interested in the fashion and not the fashionistas that he often is the first to spot trends.

Theatrical Trailer

     A Theatrical Trailer for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The Region 1 version is identical. Buy local.


     Bill Cunningham New York is high on my list of recommended documentaries for this year. Bill is an unique character - so happy and contented in his lifestyle, yet with sadness just beneath the surface.

     A good DVD transfer and some interesting extra material.

     Please buy!

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, May 14, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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