Bill Cunningham New York

(2010)

Genres: Biography, Documentary

Best of 2011 So Far: Roger Ebert

Transcript for Best of 2011 So Far: Roger Ebert

CHRISTY LEMIRE:
What films top Roger’s list? Let’s go to his office to find out.

ROGER EBERT:
My top six films for the year so far include three films you may not have heard very much about. This is Bill Kurtis speaking for Roger Ebert. So I'm going to start with those.

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"Terri," by Azazel Jacobs, is about an overweight high school student who is a misfit and doesn't care.

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Terri is played by a talented newcomer named Jacob Wysocki. He's been missing a lot of school days, and is called in by the assistant principal, played by John  C. Reilly. They develop a relationship based on mutual vulnerability.

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There are a lot of movies about teenage misfits. "Terri" is one of the best, because it avoids so many of the usual clichés.

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Next on my Top 6 list is "Trust," directed by David Schwimmer. Its story of a 14-year-old girl and a predatory pedophile results in repercussions in which rape is only the first tragedy to strike its naive and vulnerable victim.

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She meets the man, played by Chris Henry Coffey, in an internet chat room. She believes he's an athlete only a few years older than she is. When they meet, she discovers he's middle-aged. She confides in a friend, who blabs to the school principal, and that unleashes cruel Facebook gossip about her, which damages her more than the encounter itself.

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Okay. After two high school outsiders, how about a cheerful and heroic photographer in his 80s? A magical documentary named "Bill Cunningham New York" tells the story of a healthy and lively octogenarian who rides his bicycle around Manhattan to photograph what people are wearing.

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Bill Cunningham doesn't merely go to fashion shows. He photographs real people in real life, and publishes his findings on his own page in the Sunday New York Times.

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My next film is a real charmer from Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris." This is a comic fantasy starring Owen Wilson as an engaged man visiting Paris with a woman who has no sympathy with his desire to live there and write novels.

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One night a magical thing happens at the stroke of midnight. He is transported back in time to the nineteen-twenties, when Gertrude Stein ruled over a salon whose regulars included Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Picasso. It’s light-hearted, fanciful and sophisticated, and Owen Wilson evokes just the right note of wonderment and joy.

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The next of my top films is Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life." I find it a breathtaking evocation of how a human life is a tiny speck in the vastness of space and time.

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Malick seems to begin with the big bang itself, the creation of the Universe, and then come to a halt in a small Texas town where two parents are raising their three boys.

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My sixth film is Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” This haunting documentary is like a message from 32,000 years in the past. Herzog photographs a cave in southern France that contains the oldest cave drawings ever discovered. Part of the charm and impact of a Herzog documentary involves the poetry and urgency in his narrative voice.

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Five of these films have something in common: They are all fascinated by unique individual lives. Too many movies these days are about one-dimensional action heroes who hardly have personalities at all, but all six of these films are wonderful and are among the best movies of the year so far.

CHRISTY:
Thank you so much, Roger. Great picks, and you know you and I liked Bill Cunningham New York very much as well as obviously Tree of Life. Cave of Forgotten Dreams we both liked, and Terri is really good and it’s out nation wide this week, so you can go check it out wherever you are.