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3.4 out of 5 stars
Auto Focus aka Autofocus [DVD] [2002] [2003]
Format: DVD|Change
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on 5 August 2016
Not really very much interesting, seems to go through the motions of an X rated pointless personality.
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on 14 January 2006
As a teenager, I loved watching HOGAN'S HEROES, a late 1960's sitcom starring Bob Crane. Ah, the innocence of youth.
AUTO FOCUS depicts the professional self-immolation of Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear). And caused by what? Drugs? Booze? Gambling? Twinkie over-indulgence? Nope, just sex. Lots and lots of it. (Come to think of it, isn't that every teenage boy's fevered fantasy?)
As the film opens, Bob is a talented, radio talk-show host on the Los Angeles airwaves. His (apparently) happy family includes a pretty wife and kids. They're devout Catholics, going to Mass every Sunday.
Bob's agent (Ron Liebman) lands him the starring role as Colonel Hogan in the WWII prisoner-of-war farce, HOGAN'S HEROES. It's during this period that Bob befriends John Carpenter (William Dafoe), an obsequious salesman who haunts the studio lot trying to interest stars in the emerging technology of home video taping/playback. Bob, an avid photographer, is hooked. John, a sexual satyr, introduces Crane to his world of promiscuous women. Bob's growing fame as Col. Hogan attracts even more. For Crane, a typical night on the town with pal John soon involves having sex with multiple partners, all the action recorded with still or video cameras for Bob's later enjoyment. Crane even begins a torrid affair with the Hilda character (Marla Bello) of HOGAN'S HEROES. (Remember Klink's secretary, Hilda? She was a Babe.) Needless to say, Bob's marriage fails. And then things get progressively worse.
Kinnear is wonderfully creepy and as the self-destructive Hero who jeopardizes everything he holds dear just because he can't keep it zipped. (As Crane asserts, "A day without sex is a day wasted.") Even then, he might have gotten away with it if he'd been the least bit discreet. But soon, the rest of the Hollywood entertainment Biz regarded him as nothing better than a porn star. And porn stars don't get "legitimate" gigs. Crane's only good luck was that this was pre-AIDS.
Dafoe's performance as the sleazy, pimping Carpenter is chillingly good. With a friend like that, who needs enemies?
Crane's sordid end in a Scottsdale hotel room remains one of Tinseltown's greatest enigmas.
The film contains full-frontal female nudity, and certain scenes miss an X rating by the narrowest of margins. It's probably not a movie you'd pop into the DVD player to show the extended family after next Thanksgiving's feast.
I'll never again watch a HOGAN'S HEROES rerun from the same perspective.
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on 26 December 2003
This dark biopic charts the career of Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear) from cheeky disc-jockey in 1964, desperate to break in to serious films and be the new Jack Lemmon; through the high-life years he spent in the title role in 60’s US tv smash, ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ to his untimely death. Kinnear is well cast in the role of the initially insecure but amiable Hogan, who believes that likeability is 90% of the battle, which is good news as he sees himself as the typical likeable guy, always wanting to make an impression. Kinnear manages admirably to break down the image that his hard-to-beat performance as Jack Nicholson’s gay neighbour in the vastly under-rated, ‘As Good As It Gets,’ by putting everything into his portrait of Crane. Even in scenes where he is filming ‘Hogan’s Heroes,’ he manages to convey both the part he is playing and the actor he is playing in tandem through his quietly expressive face. Bob is ultimately a good man, tee-total, devoted to his family although not spending enough time with them through work, who has a small skeleton in the pornographic magazines he keeps in the garage (due to an interest in photography, he tell his wife.) It is his friendship with John Carpenter (Carpy) played with restrained magnificence by the gorgeous Willem Dafoe, that sees Bob slowly fall off the rails. Carpy is a technical expert, working for Sony, doing a good line in selling expensive hi-fi’s and video tape recorders to the rich and famous. Pretending to be a fan of the show, he takes Bob to a local strip club, where Bob, apprehensive at first, is soon adopted as drummer by the resident band, accompanying the girls’ routines. This quickly leads to double dates with Carpy, and the recording of their exploits for them both to drool over afterwards. His marriage soon collapses and Bob leaves Anne for his co-star on Hogan’s Heroes, Patty (Maria Bello) who tells him she understands him and is willing to put up with the other women. With this encouragement, and Carp pushing him further into excess, Bob’s real life, acting and fantasy life start to collide in a series of blackouts/hallucinations. Bob tries to spend less time with Carp, but he is already hopelessly addicted to their excessive lifestyle. Carp keeps him interested by showering him with better and improved video cameras. Their post mortem of each orgy afterwards as they masturbate in front of each other, watching the previous night’s events, becomes almost as important as the orgies themselves. For Bob they are proof of his versatility on screen. They are his acting taken to its next stage. As the friendship between the two men deteriorates due to Bob’s increasing disrespect of Carp, his life spirals towards its bloody end. This downbeat, voyeuristic take on success and its temptations really hits the button. Greg Kinnear in possibly his best form ever is almost upstaged by Dafoe, who beneath the sliminess, really makes you care about his character, despite his unscrupulous immorality. A suitably creepy screenplay from Paul Shraeder and a subtle homo-erotic undertow make this seedy take on ‘A Star is Born’ uncomfortably compulsive viewing
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VINE VOICEon 11 May 2008
A biopic on the story of the unsolved murder of Hogan's Heroes star, Bob Crane. Bob lead the double life of happy, family man but behind the scenes he was well into sex. With him, it was an addiction. His companion was the VCR guy, John Carpenter, later arrested for the murder.Both were dedicated photography buffs and wasted no time by photographing their sexual exploits and watching them afterwards. The film tracks Bob's rise to fame through his famous TV series which ran for six seasons, and his decline afterwards when it became known, through his open indiscretions, that he was bad news.
His decline is marked by his hallucinations and blackouts, but there may have been drugs involved, though this is not openly shown in the film. However, there is the odd suggestion, if you look closely.
Sadly, Bob resorted to working on stage in dinner theatre, and believing himself to be broke, degenerated and sank lower and more desperate, ably depicted in the film. It was later explained in the excellent extras on the DVD, that he was in for a 25% cut of the profit from "Heroes" amounting to 22.5 million dollars.
His first wife, Anne, divorced him and he married his co-star from "Heroes" but that marriage failed as well.
It is interesting to track the invention of video and its progressing effect on photography. Greg Kinnear and Daniel Dafoe, give stirring performances as the two main characters, the efforvescent Crane, and the insecure Carpenter. Carpenter makes much of Bob's fame to "pull the birds", but comes across as a lonely man, fired because he was colour-blind. They would not get away with that nowadays.
Bob Crane, was undoubtedly addicted to sex, now regarded as an illness. Finally he is battered to death in his sleep and Carpenter was arrested. The investigation was somewhat of a fiasco and was reopened ten years later with the advent of DNA testing.
This is a very good film, with excellent extras.
Well worth watching, but do not let the children see it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 August 2015
A very good production which captures very accurately the 'flavour' of Bob Crane,star of the 60's comedy series Hogan's Heroes Complete Collection Seasons 1-6 [Import] [26 DVDs] which made him into a household name.
He declined,not because of having sex with under-age girls or boys or because he was a rapist or a closeted gay,simply for his sexual appetite and his desire to film his conquests on a new film format---VCR tape, so that he could watch(and boast about)the sex on tv at home.

His fame attracted the girls of all shapes and sizes but ultimately led to his downfall as people within the media refused to employ him and he ran up debts and divorces.

The film cleverly shows his rise and fall with superb performances from Greg Kinnear,playing Crane, and another underplayed gem by Willem Dafoe as his partner in debauchery.

An interesting take on the misuse of tv celebrityhood and a warning to all the 5-minute wonders of reality tv fame.
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on 19 October 2009
Saw this in the cinema back in the day and for lots of little reasons this film touched a nerve.

...and not because I fancy myself as a home movie porn star.

Maybe it was the fall from grace, the potential unrealised or the fact I was working in radio at the time the film came out. Maybe it was because as a child I learnt the counter melody of Hogan's Heroes while in the school band (it was counter intuative if you ask me). Maybe it was because of...

Who knows.

Good performances from the cast...
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on 18 October 2015
The playback quality was not brilliant. The film stuttered several times. Very annoying. This hasn't not happened with other amazon prime films. The acting in Auto Focus is brilliant with Kinnear and DaFoe especially creepy. The plot hits a plateau and stays there for too long. I realise this is true story but the screen writer could/should have overcome this weakness in the story.
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on 12 October 2014
I first saw this in an almost empty cinema in Bradford. I think it's one of Paul Schrader's best films and certainly Greg Kinnear's finest hour. The dvd has some great special features. The film won't be everyone's cup of tea but I really like it.
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on 8 April 2015
Good performances from all concerned especially the two main protagonists. It's just a shame that childhood heroes turn out to be the same as the rest of us.
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on 9 September 2011
What a great movie , dont know why it is not more well known. I dont really remember Hogans Heroes but I still loved watching the smug Crane fall from grace . Both Kinnear and Dafoe are brilliant as are the 60s sets . A proper adult film.
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