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Visual Acoustics celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, the world's greatest architectural photographer, whose images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream. Shulman, who passed away this year, captured the work of nearly every modern and progressive architect since the 1930s including Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Frank Gehry. His images epitomized the singular beauty of Southern California's modernist movement and brought its iconic structures to the attention of the general public. This unique film is both a testament to the evolution of modern architecture and a joyful portrait of the magnetic, whip-smart gentleman who chronicled it with his unforgettable images. Written by
When standing on the shoulders of a giant all you have to do is not fall off.
This is one of those documentaries that is just about impossible to screw up. Julius Shulman was such a monumental figure in both 20th century photography and modern architecture (not to mention an affable and entertaining subject) that a documentarian need only to remember to take the lens cap off - the movie makes itself.
That being said, this film at times takes a on a tone that I felt undermined the content. Aside from a few exceptions, the "wacky" animations and motion graphics which worked in films like 'The Kid Stays in the Picture' felt very out of place here. Furthermore, the production standards for much of the interview footage was appallingly low - especially considering it is a movie ABOUT a photographer.
All of this aside, I do recommend seeing this if you are a fan of Shulman's work or mid century modern architecture. Maybe I'm being too hard on this film, but after waiting for months to see this in the theater, I left a bit disappointed. Considering so much of this film concerns itself with the fundamentals of modernism where "form follows function", I really feel that the style of someone like Gary Hustwit ('Helvetica' & 'Objectified') would have been a lot more suited to this production.
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