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4.7 out of 5 stars
Visual Acoustics
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
After waiting for nearly a year for the chance to see this, I had so hoped that this documentary would be worthy of Shulman and his extraordinary work. As mentioned in the video Modernist Shulman did not like Post Modernism architecture. Oddly what we have here, to present Julius Shulman born 1910 died 2009, is a dizzying Post Modernist chop chop documentary. I am absolutely enthralled by Shulman's photo work. And apart from the style of film making, what is most maddening is that Shulman's photographs, the very reason why the video should have been made, are usually on the screen for a period of less than four seconds each - four seconds! And during those sparse moments, Shulman's photos are moved around, swept across, have distracting CGI animated roads threading below - just too much razzle dazzle. Painfully, there is even a segment where a cartoon character is animated to walk in front of a few of Shulman's photos - the impact is unbelievably amateurish at best. Shulman's work was used and experimented with like raw materials to show off what the filmmakers can do instead of showing us what Shulman did. If you have ever been at, or in, a great work of architecture you know that understanding it, the space, your presence - takes time. I found myself continuously pausing the video just for the chance to really see these historic, architectural photos. The video offers far too many distractions such as people making needless comments and who really should not be in the video. The filmmaker and his crew did not need to be in the video, movie stars and their spouses need not have been included. Experts did not have to endlessly offer their reasons as to why Shulman is great - the photos could have done that and in the most meaningful way possible. Within this documentary there is a video that could be pared down into a nice informative piece. Having Shulman on film is essential. Yet overall, the chopped up peppy editing style of trying to include too much stuff betrayed him. Shulman and his work are truly great - a comment that relates well to his view on greatness is in the bonus material. Actually, I think you can get a better sense of Shulman from the straightforward bonus material that was left out of the finished product. The trailer as well, in many ways, is better than the finished film. Also, it was nice to hear Dustin Hoffman as narrator throughout. For me, Hoffman's presence connected well to the great documentary series he hosted on Pollock, deKooning, Smith, Gorky, and Kline in the early eighties. I wish the Shulman filmmakers had seen those works.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I loved this documentary simply because I feel like I met Julius and got to spend some time with him, if only via the screen. His simple approach to photography of single point and revealing his secret of combining natural light with artificial lighting to complement each other in order to reveal more layers was wonderful. Also, I liked the concept of how he was always relaxed and took the time to experience the moment and let the architectural, and the emotional impact of the moment, lead him in his shot taking; not letting components of that moment like dogs barking, be something that distracted him, but instead, gave him the opportunity to interact and respond as being one with the moment. Clearly his talent was to know how alive he was at every moment, and his photos reflect this energy. The architecture he was shooting, simply allowed him to share himself like any artist does, through their chosen medium and present to us what he was able to see at that moment. The beauty he didn't create, but he was able to see it, and capture it through his camera lens, and in this respect, created a different kind of beauty, one that everyone could now see, and see it though his eyes by way to the photos he took. I see architectural photography in a new light now.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
As an Architect, I can concur with some of the other reviews here; after watching a screening of the movie at a local Architecture Festival, I experienced a host of mixed feelings, unlike after seeing other major movies on Architects or Architectural subjects. On the positive side, yes, impressed and pleased with the main character and his work, but I agree that there's too much stuffed into this movie that's distracting, as has been mentioned before. But not only that; it is likely that as a viewer you're about to see not only photographs, but works of Architecture that are absolutely stunning and new at the same time, but to see them come by as on a luggage 'belt' for only what seems to be not more then a second at a time, is, maybe unknowingly, producing a teasing effect (multiplied by 100), only to take you back to the next shot of an 'event'. That is so contrasting with the few moments in the film where time has been taken to be in a place with the man and pertaining other relevant character(s), that it numbs you while watching, so that after having seen half of it, the movie line and direction are not apparent any more, no cohesion, and you wonder if that's it, after every sequence. Thanks for mentioning the bonus material and trailer; I might after all buy the movie, because as a teaser, the movie does have an effect; I want more of the Architecture shown and his photography of it !
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2010
Format: DVD
move over, ken burns.

this film has it all ... engrossing content and brilliant delivery. even the soundtrack. mesmerizing.

it enlightens us with a powerful overview of modern architects and their architecture, in los angeles and elsewhere, frozen in time and unified through the collaborative efforts of a creative and devoted photographer ... who apparently was a real character in his own right.

this is his story. and the history of modern architecture. both well told by the filmmaker and all involved ... clients, colleagues, family, friends, and fans. including my former architecture history professor at ucla during the post-modern rage.

i rented this dvd from netflix. i will now buy the dvd AND the soundtrack cd to enjoy at will and share with others. yes, it's that good.
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on August 22, 2010
Format: DVD
This tribute to the architectural photographer Julius Shulman is a joy to view. Having grown up in the 50's and taking in everything about architecture and decoration at that time, Julius Shulman's photographs were memorable in every way. The photographs of the Case Study Houses during the 50's painted a picture of the idealistic post-war lifestyle. The simplistic elegance of the architecture and decoration of the period is captured in Mr. Shulman's beautifully staged photography. This DVD was produced shortly before Mr. Shulman's death and his sharp wit and vibrant personality are fun to view as he discusses photographs he had taken 60 years before. His memory and recall of every detail is unbelievable.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Pros:
An accumulation of "personality" video well edited together at a leisurely pace thankfully missing irritating loud music. Overall probably deserves a 3 star average rating as being a typical wondering DVD that gives little direct technical info but is "nice" personality piece. Yet it gets a one from me see below:

Cons:
Not really any info about photography. Little to no, lens, camera, or film comment. One guy gives a quick summary of his technique in one of the segments but it is unusually short and not fully featured, blink and you miss it.

Not really any info about architecture, just briefest comments about his interaction with architects & modernism. Too much info on a couple of houses that they featured and not enough on the photography technique.

Missing the clear definitions needed to understand the material.

Over rated when given 1 stars by who? Friends of the makers? If they hadn't been so enthusiastic I would not have been so disappointed.

This is a classic example of very well done skimpy personality piece that just touches the surface of the material.

It wonders as though it is a collection of interviews produced & written by people with little to no background in the material. This is the problem with most documentaries, they lack a writer with knowledge of the material behind them.

Ultimately my irritation is that I should have spent my hard earned money elsewhere but I got conned by the good reviews. This is worth about $3 not the $20 I paid. Too bad the economics won't let them price it this way.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2010
Format: DVD
Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman
Stunning film on the life and work of Julius Shulman, the master of
modern architectual photography. A must-have for any fan of mid-century
architecture and design.
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on July 9, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Just a short and sweet review...I absolutely loved Visual Acoustics. Mr Shulman was an amazing person, which made him an incredible photographer/business man. I will watch and re-watch this documentary...
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on April 18, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
A magnificent and compelling film, definitely worth watching if you like photography, architecture or modernism. I highly, highly recommend it.
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on April 16, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Very fun , engaging video of a photographer of exciting architecture. Well narrated with good personal stories and interviews of Shulman.
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