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Bill Cunningham New York

Posted by on May 7, 2011

The Sky Could’ve been Falling. I didn’t care.

It’s the weekend before Mother’s day, and I’ve been working crazy hours with some crazy drama. I knew I needed a break before heading into weekend #3 of entertaining and family. The sun was shining, work problems were mostly solved, and, the cherry on top: I was working from home with some recent comp time banked. Why not take advantage? I quickly scanned the films playing and knew I couldn’t quite make “Jane Eyre” and wasn’t in the mood for “Win Win” – though I love Paul Giamatti. I decided on “Bill Cunningham New York”, a film I knew nothing about. But the description looked fantastic and suited the whimsical mood I was in.

It was perfect. Sublime.

For me it’s not just the film it’s the whole theatre experience that impacts how well I receive the film. And this time I lucked out. I literally had a private screening. I drove up to the West Newton Cinema and the meter wasn’t working. I ran in and bought a ticket and asked where I should park (they have great films but no parking lot and on street parking is scarce). So the guy tells me where to go but suggests another film because  I’m going to miss the one I chose because their trailers are just 5 minutes. I ask what the film is about and he tells me it’s  a drama with subtitles…as I mentioned, I’ve had enough drama. So not what I was in the mood for. I told him I’d chance it and raced to my car, quickly parked, and ran back in.

When I walked in he told me that he radioed the projectionist because no one else had bought a ticket. They were holding the film for me. Amazing. While I ordered my popcorn, I told him the movie was my Mother’s day gift to myself and thanked him. As he watched me turn off my cell phone he said, “You don’t have to do that. It’s just you.” I smiled and walked toward my theater and seriously wondered if the scenario could be more perfect.

Bill Cunningham New York

Private Screening for me, myself and I

As expected, the theater was empty. Just the way I wanted it. I plunked myself down in the aisle seat of the third row and made myself comfortable. Digging into my popcorn as the last trailer faded off the screen. Who was this Bill Cunningham character? I’ve recently become addicted to NY Magazine so anything about NY has a draw for me and I was anxious to learn more.

I won’t give away the film. But I will say that  I sat in awe watching a spry octogenarian straddle his bike and make his way through NYC traffic with ease. He  whipped his camera up and snapped shots of people in attractive street fashions all while on two wheels…in traffic. If any fear was present in this man, he never showed it. His singular focus on fashion and the everyday person was beyond inspiring. He’s the perfect example of what can be achieved if you feel strongly about something and just keep at it. Not in it for the money, the fame, or any of the trappings but the pure joy of the act. That’s Bill Cunningham. Oh to be Bill Cunningham! My focus has been so scattered all my life, I wonder if this laser precise focus can be achieved along with a family, a love, other passions.

All I know is that the film, the day, the scenario were perfect. I walked out on a cloud and floated down the sidewalk to my car. Driving away I thought that if the world ended in just that moment, that would be fine with me. I’d die with a smile on my face and a warm sense of acceptance that life is what you make it.


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