German filmmaker Heinz Emigholz loves architecture, and he takes an almost comically purist view of it in his 2007 documentary “Schindler’s Houses,” an odd and interesting film that looks at 39 Los Angeles buildings (mostly houses) designed by Rudolph Schindler from the 1920s to the ‘50s. Schindler, along with his friend Richard Neutra and onetime mentor Frank Lloyd Wright, put Los Angeles on the international map, architecturally speaking, and the owners of his houses tend to treat them as sancrosanct (no nonperiod renovations). The 99-minute film opens with a long shot of the corner of Palm and Holloway in West Hollywood, with buildings, including a Schindler house, hidden in the foreground, and billboards in the background. “This jumble,” says a pained narrator, “is both comic and tragic at the same time.” Emigholz implies the tragedy is that Schindler’s houses are surrounded by things as prosaic as billboards, people, grass--you know, life. After that prelude, human voices do not intrude. The film consists of shots of some of Schindler’s greatest works, most of them single-family houses in West Holly wood, Silver Lake and Los Feliz that have a rectangular simplicity and an almost strict sense of geometry. Emigholz underlines their austerity by photographing the houses with virtually no signs of animated life, give or take a couple of people and three cats. Emigholz will attend the movie’s L.A. premiere at Disney Hall’s REDCAT on April 7 and a screening at the UCLA Film & Television Archive on April 12. The film is one of a series by Emigholz. Architecture buffs love his painstaking looks at houses, but fans of Michael Bay may find them a bit slow going. (For information, go to redcat.org or call (213) 237-2800; www.cinema.ucla.edu.)
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