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The Pursuit of Freedom,
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This review is from: Bill Cunningham New York [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I just saw "Bill Cunningham New York", a documentary movie about a person previously unknown to me, and what an exuberant work it is! The brilliance is in the editing, so that we gradually move from an outside perspective to a sense of what might be driving this extraordinary individual. A written description might give the impression that he is perhaps slightly autistic but, watching him interact, you realise he is a highly focused and driven person, with a good nature, joyful disposition and wonderful sense of ethics that is doubly wonderful because it is never imposed on others.
For me the two key take-outs were firstly, a celebration of New York and Paris, the two great cities that most embrace liberty. Thinking of my own hometown Melbourne Australia and its tut-tut brigade and rigorous policing, Bill could never pull this off here. I mean, you can't even ride a bicycle without a helmet. He'd have been arrested thousands of times for photographing, jay-walking or weaving in and out of traffic. And the people he films - those individuals who define "the edge" in all its glorious variety - again the movie enables us to develop a vivid sense of New York's vibrant imagination. Liberty - such a celebration!
The second point is perhaps more striking. This movie is much like the wonderful "Into The Wild" from a few years ago in that both chart a the true story of a man who completely forsakes the materialistic life and in the process achieves near-total freedom. The remarkable thing about Bill is that he manages to pull it off while living in the midst of a highly individualistic, hedonistic, materialistic environment. He is vigorously engaged with it but seemingly unaffected; he never seems to criticise, his photographs are invariably kind. And he takes "conflict of interest" to a whole new level; the movie undoubtedly will challenge the comfortable assumptions we all make. While "Into The Wild" charts a young man's journey into an unmaterialistic life, in "Bill Cunningham New York" he reached there many decades ago and we are left to wonder about his journey. What we do see is the daily existence of a highly productive, unmaterialistic and essentially free person, we see that it is real and possible.