Bill Cunningham New York (TBC)

Starring: Bill Cunningham, Anna Wintour

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The Independent Culture

This documentary portrait exactly suits its modest yet marvellous subject. Bill Cunningham, now in his 80s, still cycles around Manhattan with a camera, photographing passers-by for his New York Times column "On the Street".

 He's not a fashion or society photographer; just interested in the clothes people choose to wear, the funkier and more imaginative the better. As the recording angel of an urban style he's like Eugène Atget crossed with Woody Allen. For years he resided in a tiny apartment in Carnegie Hall, when they still had artists' studios; instead of furniture he kept filing cabinets containing his negatives, no kitchen and barely room for a mattress. Director Richard Press follows Cunningham on his rounds, and a remarkable man emerges: solitary, beady-eyed, driven and yet immensely cheerful in his work: in a short time we come to love his quavery laugh, his rheumy eyes and his cheap blue smock with multiple pockets, the sort Parisian street-sweepers wear. He's a proper legend, feted by the great and good ("we all get dressed for Bill", says Vogue editor Anna Wintour), but essentially a humble and private individual. Only at the end, when Press asks two personal questions, one about his love life, one about religion, does the laughter briefly stop, and we sense a more complicated character. But whatever regret he might feel disappears again beneath an oceanic charm: you don't doubt why every single interviewee seems to adore him.

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