Uncropped (2024)

Uncropped (2024)

A delightful documentary that doubles as a biography of a singular artist and a celebration of a bygone era

7.9

Movie

United States of America
English
Documentary
2024
D.W. YOUNG
Alexandra Jacobs, James Hamilton, Joe Conason
111 min

TLDR

Wes Anderson, who appears in the documentary and serves as its executive producer, describes James Hamilton best when he says “he’s basically James Stewart in Rear Window.”

What it's about

A retrospective of photographer James Hamilton, who has captured everything from film stills, war photographs, celebrity portraits, fashion shows, concerts, suburbia, and perhaps most iconic of all, an ever-evolving New York City.

The take

Those unfamiliar with James Hamilton would be forgiven for asking “Why him?” Why does he get a documentary? What makes this photographer so special? But a few minutes in, those questions are immediately replaced with the more appropriate, “Well, why not him?” Hamilton’s work spans decades, and they capture in rich detail a New York that’s long gone, as well as an alternative form of journalism that used to thrive back then (in print no less!), but can now only be found few and far between. It’s enough to see his work, sectioned here in order of their appearance in iconic publications like Harper’s Bazaar, The Village Voice, and New York Observer. Still, they’re complemented by moving images and illuminating interviews beautifully shot in 35mm. Uncropped is reminiscent of other documentaries that also capture New York in its heyday, a distinguished roster that includes films like All The Beauty and the Bloodshed, Paris is Burning, and The Automat. But Uncropped, like Hamilton, has a distinctive edge that marks it as an instant classic. By the end, you can’t help but think, what a rich life Hamilton’s lived, and how lucky we are to see through his vivid, imaginative lens.

What stands out

Maybe it's just the writer in me, but The Village Voice chapter could be an hour longer and I wouldn’t complain. I think we need a standalone doc on just how that gem of a paper came to be.

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