Auto Focus Reviews
Paul Schrader is a man who certainly knows how to capture the darker points of life onscreen. Auto Focus and Affliction, the latter being a personal favorite of mine, are perfect examples of that. Schrader begins by showing us a character that has been a victim of circumstance, and then leads us down a path to despair as they are swallowed by their own sin. In the end, we cannot help but feel pity for them
Though Schrader is indifferent to the lead character, Bob Crane, it is clear that he loathes and holds a deep resentment for the sin that Crane commits. It is exactly that that makes Auto Focus such a good film, not to mention the wonderful performance from Greg Kinnear.
There need to be more directors like Paul Schrader out there. Cinema does have a purpose, but, sadly, it is typically used to entertain audiences with either bad jokes, loud action, or both.
I, for one, feel that cinema is a perfect way to warn the world of the dangers and temptations that lurk beneath the happy exterior, the dangers that lurk like characters in a David Lynch film.
Cinema's number one purpose is for entertainment, yes, and I have no quarrels with that, but take a look at the world we live in. Look at the box office totals between Auto Focus and, say, Transformers.
Its a study of addiction. Like any addict, Crane constantly announced plans to change but never made any effort. If he really meant to in the end, that's probably what got him killed. His obsession ruined his life and career.
Director Paul Schrader may have made a faithful adaptation of the source book, but it left me wanting more of some things and less of others. It did have plenty of sleaze. Its a gloomy, unflinching film, and I recommend it to anyone willing to delve into the dark underbelly of success.
This movie starts out with a wholesome pre- Hogan's Hero, before he made it big, .....in a great family and who is so straight he sees his friend, a priest to help him.
A true story of a person getting [i]way[/i] over their head in Hollywood and letting their inhibitions get the better of them. I always heard Hogan was a piece of work in real life, but this one shows it all.
I have to believe he was killed by his "friend", someone he tried to escape from but either wouldn't or couldn't. His "friend", a techo freak from the 60's, must have been Satan himself... he was always tempting Hogan with evil. They tried to prosecute the fellow twice, but the "friend" in reality got away with murder after all.
The movie tries to cast people in the roles of the TV show, Hogan's Heros, and succeeds mainly with Col. Klink, but with nobody else. Richard Dawson, an actor in the TV show, Hogans Heroes, is portrayed as a womanizer, something I wonder if he permitted if he saw the script, but he must have been ok with it because he displayed that "talent" on his quiz show, always kissing the gal contestants.
I kind of recommend this for the suspense of it all, but it is kinky in places and it is not credible that such a home type guy would be such a sleeze bag.
See it at your own risk. It was worth my time.
The central performance of Greg Kinnear is exemplary, he plays on the lovable nice guy image he's cultivated in films like You've Got Mail and As Good As It Gets to create a devastating and believable portrait of a simple and charming man who falls into a life of grime. The early innocence of Crane is perfectly captured and you can't help but go along with him as he boyishly has his way with the world of women who lay themselves at his feet.
He manages to make Crane an intrinsically likeable American sort of hero who just loves sex and women as this brilliantly explicit speech shows:
'I'm a normal, red-blooded American man. I like to look at naked women. I love breasts, any kind. I love 'em! Boobs, bazooms, balloons, bags, bazongas. The bigger, the better. Nipples like udders, nipples like saucers, big pale rosy-brown nipples. Little bitty baby nipples. Real or fake, what's the difference? I like tits. Who's kidding who? Tits are great!'
This could easily come across as misogynistic and crude but with Kinnear's affably mellow voice he manages to imbue a boyish enthusiasm into it and it comes across as strangely sweet and endearing. He also portrays Crane sense of uncertainty and confusion later in the film, particularly in one very effective scene with his son as he bemusedly asks his son about the colour orange - 'I mean what is it really? But that's it, tell me what it is. What's orange?'
As Crane ages disgracefully behind his Elvis sunglasses and the film slowly reveals its dark heart the cinematography and music brilliantly capture his descent with the colour seeming to drain out of the film and the music both emphasising and foreshadowing the sordid real life events that follow. For somebody who didn't know a thing about Bob Crane before watching this I have to say I found the last scene one of the most powerful and disconcerting things I've ever seen in a film. The gradual building up and gory release of tensions should demonstrate just what a fine filmmaker Schrader is and what a fine film this is too.
The only annoying thing about the film is the truly appalling English accent of Michael E Rodgers but it's a very minor and irrelevant fault really. If you're anything like me, this film will seep into your bloodstream like a sort of toxin, prodding your sensibilities and questioning your pleasures. You feel you're being led by the director through a moral battleground as we are left ultimately to make up our minds what to think of the two main characters - the film by turns suggests applause, puritan condemnation and finally a curious kind of acceptance as Crane says from beyond the grave 'I couldn't blame him, men gotta have fun.'
the film never focuses on the end which could of been alot more interesting with the investigation into he's death. the film is solid but never anything more, sadly the filmmakers went with the conventional story instead.
great cast with a well written film sadly this one missed the masses with its subject matter. underrated this is one film you must see