QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded
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Bill Cunningham New York

The title seems to lack punctuation while seeming to also need it: Bill Cunningham New York is a documentary about a documentary photographer. The pictures Bill Cunningham takes, and has taken for half of his eighty years, document "street fashion": emerging trends in clothing as it is worn on the streets, mostly of New York.

Mr Cunningham, a former milliner, now has two columns in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. The movie follows him around on his long days of standing on corners photographing passerby, biking from place to place, and attending events to photograph the people there. Well, not the people. He makes it quite clear that he doesn't care about the /people/. It's the interesting clothes they wear that he wants to photograph.

It's a very engaging look at a guy who doesn't like to be looked at, but looks at everyone else. From Mrs Astor to young men wearing falling down pants, he watches, appraises, and finds the trends and standout non-cookie-cutter looks. Yet his own clothes are extremely dreary.

There are a pair of personal questions asked of Bill Cunningham that produce two very different responses. While the questions and the responses are not uninteresting — one is interesting because of what is not said — they aren't relevant to his work, or should I say hobby of photography.

That's not so bad to have, but the movie raises some questions about his photography that don't get answered. Mr Cunningham makes a point about how he does not accept money for his photos. Paraphrasing: "If they don't pay you, they can't tell you what to do." It's never made clear if he has changed that ethic in working for the NY Times, but I suspect not. So how does he earn his pay? He isn't working as a milliner any more.

I would love to see a book of Mr Cunningham's photos.

Four blue jackets out of five (or twenty-four bikes out of twenty-nine).

Bill Cunningham New York at IMDB Official site

(Using twenty-nine because at one point he mentions he's had his previous twenty-eight bikes stolen.)

Source Code

Source Code at IMDB

The best Philip K. Dick movie not by Philip K. Dick of the year. There is a lot of Groundhog Day thrown in with the "what's real and what's not?" and borderline telepathic crime fighting, the latter two being strong PKD themes.

What we have is a military experiment to get someone to relive the last few minutes of a dead man's life — in this case someone killed by an act of terrorism — in an attempt to prevent more associated crimes. Each run begins in the same place, and each run ends with him dying. In between he is somewhere else and being interrogated about what he has learned.

Can Captain Colter Stevens (who considers him self a military pilot) acting in the body of Sean Fentress, a now deceased passenger, do anything to save the people on the train? Can he find out what's been happening him in the past couple of months? This reliving someone else's life is jarring on the memory. As it goes on his memory improves, but it just brings more questions.

Pretty entertaining, if not very plausible. Six minutes of a dead man's life out of eight.

Groundhog Day at IMDB

Final thought: saw this on 's dime today

Gnomeo and Juliet

My wife had an art opening to attend last night, and so to make the kids excited not to spend the whole evening there, I took them to a movie, the newly opened Gnomeo and Juliet. I saw the 3-D version, because that's what was playing at a good time.

The movie does not attempt to conceal that it is a rewriten Romeo and Juliet, it opens with a gnome on a stage reading the introduction to the play — with a hook fashioned from a coat hanger trying to pull him off stage.

The story is a basic outline of the famous tragedy, here made into a comedy, acted out by plaster lawn gnomes (mostly) that come alive when no one is looking in the same way the toys of Toy Story do. These gnomes won't survive a long fall though, and death by shattering is a reoccuring worry.

Overall it's mildly funny, entirely harmless, and needlessly 3-D. Some famous musician did the music and you can tell.

Two pink plastic flamingos out of four.

Before the movie there was a trailer for a IMAX wild baby orphan animals something or other. It was one of the 3-D trailers and it put the rest of the 3-D experience to shame. This was not an IMAX screen, so the trailer itself wouldn't have been IMAX, but still it was very beautifully shot, crisp 3-D, beautiful details in every corner of every shot. Whatever the interest or value of the story, the filming looks gorgeeous enought to justify seeing it.

I was not impressed by the Cars II trailer, but many Pixar trailers have not impressed me and I've still liked the movie.

Gnomeo and Juliet at IMDB

IMAX Born to be Wild at IMDB

Cars 2 at IMDB

Final thought: can't remember any other trailers

Dr Seuss's The Seven Lady Godivas

Dr Seuss's The Seven Lady Godivas

A banner on the cover proclaims:

"The true facts concerning history's barest family"


"History has treated no name so shabbily as it has the name Godiva.

"Today Lady Godiva brings to mind a shameful picture — a big blond nude trotting around the town on a horse. In the background of this picture, there is always Peeping Tom, an illicit snooper with questionable intentions.

"The author feels that the time has come to speak:

"There was not one; there were Seven Lady Godivas,
and their nakedness actually was not a thing of
shame. So far as Peeping Tom is concerned, he never
really peeped. ''Peeping'' was merely the old family
name, and Tom and his six brothers bore it with

"A beautiful story of love, honor and scientific achievement has too long been gathering dust in the archives.

"Dr. Seuss
"Coventry, 1939"

(Chapter one — chaters are unnumbered)

"Old Lord Godiva

"On the fifteenth of May in the year
1066, Lord Godiva, Earl of all Coventry,
summoned his daughters to appear before
him in the Great North Hall of the Castle

"For a long silent moment he regarded them proudly, for the seven daughters of Lord Godiva had brains. Nowhere, he thought with satisfaction, could there be a group of young ladies that wasted less time upon frivol and froth. No fluffy-duff primping, no feather, no fuss. They were simply themselves and chose not to disguise it.

"''Girls,'' announced Lord Godiva, ''today I leave for the Battle of Hastings. And,'' he added calmly, ''I'm going by horseback.''


"The sisters looked nervously from one to anotheer. In that day in England, the horse was not taken lightly. True, Lord Godiva had been experimenting with these animals for years. But the horse remaind a mystery, unbroken in spirit, a contrary beast full of wiles and surprises.

"''Come, come,'' chided Lord Godiva, rattling his spurs. ''Don't be so old-fashioned. This is 1066! Definitely, I shall attend the battle on horseback.''"


(No page numbers, it goes on like that for about eighty pages, alternating a page of text and a page with a picture. Oh, Lord Godiva dies about two pages further in, killed by his horse. And the total explanation for why all the seven sisters, and only them, are always through sun and snow in the nude is in that line "chose not to disguise it."

(This is the rare Dr Seuss book aimed at adults, humorously spinning a yarn of where "horse truths" like "Don't change horses mid-stream" come from. The sisters have a pact to research horses before they can marry, and each finds one and then runs off with a brother Peeping.

(My quoted text preserves, modulo typos on my part, punctuation and line breaks in the book. Italics I leave out. I was using the 1987 reprint — "Re-Issued by Multitudinous Demand" it reads on the cover.)

Final thought: only one Lady is blond, mom isn't here and the Lord is bald with a white beard

Although written for an adult audience, it's less of an "adult" book than say, The Curious Sofa by Edward Gorey. I wouldn't read it to my kids (I expeect they would get bored) but I wouldn't worry about them flipping through it. All of the nudity is Barbie nudity: no nipples and no pudenda. It's funny, but not a lot so. If not for the Dr. Seuss connection, it wouldn't be worth a mention.

Final thought: The Curious Sofa is very funny, but only very suggestive, not explicit