Six sense for style

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH

THE fa­mously reclu­sive pho­tog­ra­pher Bill Cun­ning­ham has al­ways be­lieved his place is be­hind the cam­era.

So it bor­ders on mirac­u­lous that the iconic New York Times lens­man agreed to par­tic­i­pate in this spell­bind­ing doc­u­men­tary on his life and work. First- time film­maker Richard Press is to be com­mended for coax­ing his mys­te­ri­ous sub­ject out into the spot­light. It took a num­ber of false starts over a decade, but the wait has turned out to be well and truly worth it.

Cun­ning­ham is no or­di­nary news­pa­per snap­per. That much is ap­par­ent as soon as we are in­tro­duced to his un­usual meth­ods.

Each week­day, Cun­ning­ham ( pic­tured, be­lieved to be any­where be­tween 80 and 90 years of age) hops on a bike and ped­als up and down the main drags of Man­hat­tan.

His pri­mary in­ter­est is fash­ion and, to Cun­ning­ham, the side­walks are cat­walks. How peo­ple ex­press them­selves through how they dress is a source of end­less fas­ci­na­tion to him.

As the doc­u­men­tary wears on, it is clear his ob­ses­sion with clothes, ac­ces­sories and pre­sen­ta­tion have ar­guably ru­ined his life and yet also kept him re­mark­ably young for his age.

Cun­ning­ham’s Rain Man- like at­ten­tion to de­tail man­i­fests it­self on the pages of the Times as an in­ci­sively soul­ful cel­e­bra­tion of fash­ion in its end­lessly varied forms.

One week he might zero in on noth­ing but shoelaces, the next he has de­voted two broad­sheet pages to im­ages of folds in skirts.

Some­how, with­out so much as an ex­pla­na­tion, Cun­ning­ham’s sixth sense for style not only iden­ti­fies trends as they are hap­pen­ing on the streets of New York but, in his own unique way, he is set­ting trends as well. www. zeit­geist­films. com/ bill­cun­ning­ham newyork/

Now show­ing State Cine­mas

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