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8 reviews, 21 user ratings

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Auto Focus
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by EricDSnider

"Creepy, yes, but why are we watching this?"
3 stars

What can be said of "Auto Focus" is what can be said of many film biographies: There are some great performances here, but why is this story being told?

Biopics are often labors of love for their writers and directors, and too often, because of their passion for the subject, filmmakers assume the audience will be as interested in the people being biographed as they are.

Usually, however, audiences have only a passing knowledge of the subject and must be enticed with a good story, just like with any other film.

"Auto Focus," directed by Paul Schrader, has an interesting story. The subject is Bob Crane, the star of "Hogan's Heroes" who became addicted to sex and home-made pornography and was found murdered in a hotel room in 1978. The murder was never solved.

That's a fine starting point, but there must be more. If Crane's slip from a serene, square life to one of depravity is a cautionary tale, who is being cautioned? The film makes no attempt to show how or why Crane was led to that life; merely that he WAS. But good films must do more than present a litany of historical details. They need to infuse them with life, purpose and reason. All "Auto Focus" does is offer up this lame platitude as its moral: "Men gotta have fun." Well, duh.

Willem Dafoe is strong as Crane's oily cohort John Carpenter, and the re-creations of "Hogan's Heroes" moments are flawless and impeccable.

Greg Kinnear is nearly perfect as Crane. Going beyond a mere impersonation of the man's voice and mannerisms, he presents Crane as a real, live person. If only the movie were as fleshed out (and not just full of flesh) as its lead performance.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6234&reviewer=247
originally posted: 11/20/02 16:04:41
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/18/14 Ofmnzhuz This is perhaps the best selling female artist from Barbados to receive Jesus. White and se 2 stars
2/13/14 WDXsCnPgcSFqvb sverige.txt;1 3 stars
9/04/09 RLan Good performance by Kinnear but the movie could have been better. 3 stars
10/28/04 ODH This flicks was funny and at the same time well acted. Bob Crane was one sick puppy!!! 4 stars
5/28/04 Suzette Kinnear was fantasitc!! 5 stars
2/23/04 tatum Supporting cast disappears, but Kinnear and Dafoe are excellent 4 stars
1/24/04 Patricia Rohr Great Performances. A film about a guy who used his position to get laid. 4 stars
1/11/04 Atanu Great review by chris parry 4 stars
1/08/04 Jack Sommersby Watchable, but there's no essential view of the material. 2 stars
10/17/03 Jinnvisible I asked for my money back at the video rental store,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and they gave it back!!!! 1 stars
9/13/03 Ant A genuinely interesting study of a man's rise a fall. Kinnear is brilliant. 4 stars
6/24/03 quasi Don't bother unless you are seriously bored. 3 stars
4/28/03 Andrew Carden Kinnear Is Amazing, Dafoe Provides Great Support. Delightful. 5 stars
4/03/03 The Good Crane Son Yeah, not too INTERESTING per se, but perfect acting and lots of celeb taboo is always fun 5 stars
3/16/03 Paul Coleman Yes....John Carpenter murdered Bob Crane. Great performances. 4 stars
11/15/02 Robert Scott Crane Boring. Innacurate. Waste of Time. 2 stars
11/10/02 Mipchunk Interesting movie but it feels just like a biography, nothing really to learn from it. 3 stars
11/09/02 spaceworm Ick! 4 stars
11/08/02 Suzz good performances; great study of the slippery slope to depravity 5 stars
11/02/02 rue the whirl fascinating story. 4 stars
10/24/02 Gobblygook I enjoyed this movie. Performances were great. Much funnier than intense though. 5 stars
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  18-Oct-2002 (R)



Directed by
  Paul Schrader

Written by
  Paul Schrader

  Greg Kinnear
  Willem Dafoe
  Maria Bello
  Kurt Fuller
  Rita Wilson
  Lyle Kanouse

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