Auto Focus | EW.com

Movies

Auto FocusIn retrospect, it's no surprise that Auto Focus didn't do much business in theaters. This is a movie about a TV star, ''Hogan's Heroes'' funnyman...Auto FocusDramaPT104MRIn retrospect, it's no surprise that Auto Focus didn't do much business in theaters. This is a movie about a TV star, ''Hogan's Heroes'' funnyman...2003-03-21Ed Begley Jr.Maria BelloRon LeibmanMichael McKeanRita WilsonEd Begley Jr., Maria Bello, Ron Leibman, Michael McKean, Rita WilsonSony Pictures Classics
Maria Bello, Greg Kinnear, ...

(Autofocus:Frank Masi)

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Auto Focus

Genre: Drama; Starring: Willem Dafoe, Greg Kinnear, Ed Begley Jr., Maria Bello, Ron Leibman, Michael McKean, Rita Wilson; Director: Paul Schrader; Author: Michael Gerbosi; Runtime (in minutes): 104; MPAA Rating: R; Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

In retrospect, it’s no surprise that Auto Focus didn’t do much business in theaters. This is a movie about a TV star, ”Hogan’s Heroes” funnyman Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear), whose compulsion to videotape himself having sex culminated in his murder. Somehow, the subject seemed too small for the big screen; the film’s natural home, eerily enough, is on video.

Director Paul Schrader, an intrepid explorer of sexual obsession since 1979’s ”Hardcore,” proves an inspired choice to tell Crane’s story, and Kinnear pulls off nothing short of an acting miracle: a profound portrait of a shallow man. Crane’s codependent partnership with technogeek-swinger John Carpenter (the deeply creepy Willem Dafoe) seems perverse at first, then turns twistedly poignant when they’re reduced to watching their own X-rated reruns. But the most touching relationship in ”Auto Focus” is Crane’s tender bond with his longtime agent (Ron Leibman, indelible as a mensch among mensches). And if that’s not a measure of how skewed Crane’s moral compass was, nothing is.

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