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Auto Focus (2002)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
Director:
Paul Schrader Paul Schrader
Starring:
Greg Kinnear Greg Kinnear
Willem Dafoe Willem Dafoe
Rita Wilson Rita Wilson
Maria Bello Maria Bello
Ron Leibman Ron Leibman

6.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Biopic (Feature), Drama, Period Film
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 14, 2005
When you think about bizarre Hollywood deaths, celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Sharon Tate, and Haing S. Ngor come to mind. Most people don't think about Bob Crane, the star of the hit television show "Hogan's Heroes". The truth is--so little is known about Crane's life, that's why most people never gave his death the attention it deserved. Now, with "Auto Focus", Crane's life comes slamming into our collective faces, and some people will probably not want to see it. He was so beloved on "Hogan's Heroes" that most people from his generation have a hard time imagining him as the seedy sex-a-holic that he was. "Auto Focus" is a brilliant new film about that obsession, from master director Paul Schrader, whose film "Affliction" garnered James Coburn a much deserved Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and was the most influential and controversial film on family of the last decade.

This film stays away from most of the good things in Crane's life, mostly because we already know about them. It shows his rise from a DJ to the "Hogan's Heroes" star, but focuses mainly on his failed dinner theatre attempts, his two failed marriages, and his decline into the seedy underworld of pornography and sexual escapades. This eventually leads to his death, Bob Crane having been found bludgeoned to death in 1978 in an Arizona motel room.

The film also focuses on Crane's relationship with amateur filmmaker John Carpenter (not the same man who directed "Halloween" and "The Thing", or the first winner on "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire"), who is suspected of being the man responsible for Crane's murder. Carpenter is the one who first exposes Crane to the world of sex by taking him to a strip club. The scenes between Greg Kinnear (Crane) and Willem Dafoe (Carpenter) are extraordinary and both men should be considered for Academy Awards, most notably Kinnear, who gives his best performance of his career and the best single performance of the year.

Here is a warning to those of you who will be seeing this film: though most of the women in this film are shot kind of out of focus, there are numerous shots of nudity in this film, which are not tackily done, but done just right to create the feelings of Crane and what he was going through at the time.

This film receives the highest recommendation I can give and it will surely be on my list of the year's best, having managed to prove more enjoyable than the fabulous "Moonlight Mile" and "Signs". Greg Kinnear might be one of my new favorite actors, and Willem Dafoe has held that distinction since "Platoon". You must see this movie and learn more about Bob Crane, a comedic genius who was caught up in a world that became to addictive to just leave. "Auto Focus" is phenomenal. 8/10.
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