Visual Acoustics The Modernism Of Julius Shulman (2009) + Rem
Koolhaas A Kind Of Architect (2007/Arthouse Films/New Video DVDs)
Picture: C+/C Sound: C+ Extras: B-/C Documentaries: B/B-
is not just about the look of buildings or even the artistic merits of the
work, but about how we live and what we live in, what we live with. Two new documentaries offer interesting looks
at the subject through the eyes of two very different artists.
Visual Acoustics The Modernism
Of Julius Shulman
(2009) is Director Eric Brokers work on the amazing library of still
photography taken by Shulman when the modernist style of building arrived in
the 1950s and 1960s. Often using black
and white photography, Shulman began in the 1930s capturing the work of every
major architect in the world and the result is one of the most key portraits of
the 20th Century on still film.
Dustin Hoffman narrates this very welcome story of a man whose work was
even ignored at one point when post-modern design first arrived, but it is a
rich 83 minutes and worth your time.
Markus Heidingsfelder/Min Tesch documentary Rem Koolhaas A Kind Of Architect (2007) tells us about an
architect with a difference, whose theories on the subject were applied to his
work and by throwing context out the window, created some of the most surreal,
stand-alone (in more ways than one) structures in the history of
architecture. The Dutch genius designed
some classic buildings on his own, co-designed other key buildings through a partnership
and wrote some key works on the subject, stretching the subject further and
stretched his work into other arenas as well.
This 97 minutes look at his life is a little choppy and rough, but the
better parts are worth tolerating the problems.
Koolhaus also speaks for himself and that can be very interesting in
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Acoustics is a mix of old film, old analog video and new HD and
other shots, plus stills that are typical of any documentary, but look fine
here. The 1.33 X 1 image on Koolhaus is weak, often letterboxed
with subtitles in the bottom black bar (ala the old days of 12 LaserDiscs) and
other times full screen. Video Black is
especially weak and detail can be a problem, along with aliasing errors. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on each DVD are
more on par with each other, offering simple stereo, archival mono and some
location audio problems, but most of the important information is audible.
Both come with extras. Acoustics offers feature-length audio
commentary by the director, Theatrical Trailer, Deleted Scenes and Extra
Footage, while Koolhaus has a longer
interview with its subject and Casa de Musica Aerial View footage.
- Nicholas Sheffo