Most helpful critical review
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2010
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.