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Ten reasons you will love ‘Uncropped’

The streets of New York star in this photographic documentary.

Sometimes when I watch and rewatch a film I really like, I have a hard time knowing where to begin when describing it to others. Let me put it this way: There are countless reasons to see “Uncropped,” which will be available on Amazon and Apple TV next Tuesday. It is also on the docket of the Berkshire International Film Festival with a June 1 screening date. Honestly, I would see this a third time if I could catch it on a big screen.

In any event, for your consideration, here are 10 reasons you will love “Uncropped.”

“Uncropped” shows and tells the professional work and life story of photographer James Hamilton, who is also much more than a photographer. He collects flip books, has his own IMDb page, and his grandmother took him to see “Psycho” on opening day in New York City.

Hamilton reminds me somewhat of Bill Cunningham, the late great street fashion photographer for The New York Times. (Like Hamilton, Cunningham is the subject of his own documentary film too.) But where Cunningham worked for the city’s newspaper of record, Hamilton’s camerawork is most closely associated with The Village Voice.

Because of this, Hamilton’s eyes witnessed the merging of art and journalism. And “Uncropped” is nothing if not a time capsule. Solid reasons to add it to your movie queue:

  1. Hamilton’s big break came when fashion photographer Alberto Rizzo hired him. I may digress, but would love to see a documentary about him too.
  2. I lost count of all the movie stills in “Uncropped,” but if you know what movie Kathy Bates and Carly Simon both appear in, then you know my favorite one.
  3. Listening to Hamilton and his longtime romantic partner Kathy Dobie talk about working together at The Village Voice is priceless. Watching him float in the ocean while holding his waterproof camera above the waves as she narrates the action: delightful.
  4. Hamilton’s photos of Alfred Hitchcock at The St. Regis Hotel while promoting his film “Frenzy” present him in a way I had never seen before.

    “Alfred Hitchcock” (1972). Photo by James Hamilton.
  5. The scene where Hamilton explains, “In those days, people were avoiding looking in the camera, whereas now maybe they pose.”
  6. Learning about Local 306, the Motion Picture Projectionists Union, as well as many of New York City’s old cinemas (i.e., the Anco, Harris, Selwyn, and Thalia).

    “Outside a theater on 42nd Street, Times Square NYC” (1978). Photo by James Hamilton.
  7. Hearing so many incredible stories about The Village Voice and remembering what a wicked cool print publication it was.
  8. When Hamilton appears on set for Wes Anderson, there he is at a bridge table in “The Royal Tenenbaums.” Of course, Anderson executive produced “Uncropped.”
  9. Before actor and filmmaker Bill Paxton was famous, he had a nightly newspaper-delivery route. Hamilton captures this astonishingly well, which will make you smile. Such a bygone era!
  10. James Hamilton’s closing thoughts in “Uncropped,” which are:

I’m always being reminded of films. I think about films a lot; films in my past and my history because they were very important to me. And I can take myself back to being in the theater even when I first saw a film. I mean they’re anchors for memories, which I love.

Image courtesy of Fine Print Pictures.

Remember, you can check out “Uncropped” on May 7 on Amazon and Apple TV, or preferably on the big screen at Berkshire International Film Festival on June 1.

In addition, if you want to get a head start, pick up a copy of “The Freaks Came Out to Write,” Tricia Romano’s history of The Village Voice. Make sure to take the five-item pre-test of your New York City knowledge.

In closing, I would also like to wish The Berkshire Edge a belated but very happy birthday, which coincides perfectly with my own!

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