“Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner” pays documentary tribute to a man whose flamboyantly modernist residences, mostly in Southern California, have been memorably featured in movies. Ironically, the film itself is structurally unsound, needing narrative support in its second half as it vaguely concerns the maintenance of Lautner’s legacy and the restoration and study of his buildings. Particularly as the character of Lautner is insufficiently sketched, “Infinite Space” mainly will be of interest to architecture buffs, although the beauty of the homes featured here will be undeniable to all but the most stubborn of the man’s detractors.
In part through snippets of an interview with the late architect, director Murray Grigor lays the foundation — Michigan-born Lautner loved nature and Frank Lloyd Wright, but his family life suffered — before surveying some of the buildings. Much time is spent on the breathtaking Chemisphere, a flying saucer of a house that Brian De Palma helped immortalize in “Body Double.” Better at showing than telling, the film has some spectacular shots that make the most of natural light and thus illuminate Lautner’s work in integrating his constructions with the surrounding landscape.