Architecture of Photography

DVD: Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman — Frank Lloyd Wright said that architecture is the most important art form because it surrounds us everywhere. Shulman, the subject of this documentary, is a photographer whose work capturing the modernism movement makes him the most important lensman depicting the power and beauty of great buildings. Alas, the film has a dryness that occasionally reaches the point of being brittle. But Shulman’s photographs of designs by Wright, Frank Gehry, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and others — some of them genuinely iconic — redeem it even if his life story doesn’t offer much frisson to drive a movie. He was an obviously charming and talented fellow who surely was a delight to know, and this film certainly makes a case for his artistic and historical significance even if it is more suited for those interested in architecture and photography than the average viewer.

DVD: Stones In Exile — For some fans of The Rolling Stones, their 1972 double album Exile on Main St. is the band’s finest and most truly rock’n’roll moment. It was made at a critical juncture when they fled England to escape its financially crippling taxes and the heady days of the 1960s were morphing into the cultural milieu to follow. Largely misunderstood and poorly received when it was released, Exile and its making have over time become the stuff of legend. With Stones members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charle Watts helping tell the story along with other participants, the recording of its basic tracks in Richards’ rented villa Nellcote on the French Mediterranean coast loses some of its romantic allure, yet is still the fascinating core of this tale. Filmed to coincide with the re-release of Exile in a remastered package augmented by bonus tracks, “Stones In Exile” offers a illuminating look into both the Stones and the creation of the album that anyone who follows the iconic group will find quite interesting.

CD: Cry Till You Laugh by Terri Hendrix — This truly independent Texas singer-songwriter is one of the best faces for idealism in contemporary music, and with each album goes further beyond the usual tropes of the form. Yes, she’s a wonderful singer who composes songs rich with heart, insight, and an admirably empathetic and positive sensibility. But with her creative partner and producer Lloyd Maines — known for his work with the Dixie Chicks (for which his daughter Natalie is the lead singer), Flatlanders and other roots acts — this disc is as much about the music as it is the songs and their singing. With elements of folk, rock, country and such jazz flavors as Dixieland and big band, this is a genuinely masterful set of 15 tracks that are sure to be enjoyed if not treasured by music fans who have yet to discover this wonderful artist.

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2010


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