Projections - Movie Reviews

Auto Focus

Auto Focus

Auto Focus is a revealing biopic of the blandly charming actor Bob Crane, known as Colonel Hogan on the CBS hit TV series "Hogan Heroes."

The title of Paul Schrader's film seems to have a dark predilection with what brought an ordinary, successful man to an ultimate demise.  But there is humanity covered by the lascivious side of a man brought down by addiction and pornography.  The director of Affliction and writer of Taxi Driver and the profane Last Temptation of Christ takes a provocative look at a man who became a stranger to his family.

Those unfamiliar with Crane's life, over the 15 years just before his unsolved murder while staying at a Scottsdale, Arizona motel, will be startled at times by what he did off camera.

Acted with modesty by Greg Kinnear we see a hard-working family man whose private life gradually takes over, from the very easy-going man at the start as a DJ for KNX radio who loves to play the drums.

The devout Catholic, married to his high school sweetheart for 15 years, is taken aback when his agent, Lenny (Ron Leibman) hands him a script for a TV show set in a Nazi POW camp.  He thinks it's a career killer, but after reading it, he agrees to take the lead role.

Kinnear's periodic voice-overs, informative and increasingly reflective, chronicles his success on the small screen.  But what comes with fame and fortune is magnified from pleasures hidden from his family that include photographs and adult magazines.

Once the popular TV series ran its course his reputation left him divorced from two wives and his career reduced to low-rent gigs around the country.

Willem Dafoe's John Carpenter who introduced Crane to technical video products adds to his collection of seedy film characters with a parasitic wit that ranges from improvisation to repressed feeling caught on video tape manifesting more than sexual excess.

It has to be said that Kinnear, especially as Crane ages, uncannily looks and acts like him even if the resemblance is elusive at the onset.  Once, a host of E's "Talk Soup" and NBC's "Later" the acclaimed actor of As Good As it Gets depicts obsession and decency with ease.

 
Frank
Chris
Tony
Jim
Howard
Jennifer
Kathleen
Avg.
Auto Focus
C+
 
 
B+
 
 
B
B
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