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Auto Focus (Widescreen Special Edition) (Bilingual)

Greg Kinnear , Willem Dafoe , Paul Schrader    R (Restricted)   DVD
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
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Product Description

In Auto Focus, Academy Award nominees Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe star in a provocative drama about the colorful life and mysterious death of legendary television actor Bob Crane. With an abundance of fame, wealth, and success, Crane dove headfirst into the darker, destructive side of the celebrity lifestyle. But when the fast living and hard loving got out of control, the end result was a brutal murder that remains one of the most scandalous unsolved mysteries in Hollywood history.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Bob, I said I'm sorry. It's a group grope!" May 27 2004
Format:DVD
The title "Auto Focus" relates to "self-involved", not the operation of camera lenses (which were not around in Bob's day.) The movie covers the period of 1965-1978 in the life of actor Bob Crane.
"But why Bob Crane"? you might ask. Good question. Bob Crane is best-known as "Colonel Hogan" in the hit TV sit-com "Hogan's Heroes" which aired for 6 years. Previous to that, Bob did mostly radio work, and some minor acting. After "Hogan's Heroes" was abruptly cancelled, he had a hard time getting much meaningful work, mostly because of his reputation for having an addiction to sex and pornography, which is the main thrust of the movie.
While at first blush this may not seem to be much of a story, it is strangely compelling. It was directed by Paul Shrader, who wrote Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, so he is no lightweight when it comes to dark subjects. However, the movie is pretty quite bright and cheery for the first third or so. Then by design, as we see more and more of Bob Crane's degrading life and lifestyle, the colors get darker and drabber, different film-stock is used for a grungier feel, the camera becomes hand-held rather than having smooth pans, etc.
Bob met up with a man named John Carpenter, who was sort of a video enthusiast/merchandiser, when video was just getting going. There is a fair amount of retro-video technology shown in the movie - big bulky cameras (VTR's - video tape recorders)- which produce reel-to-reel tape, then big bulky cassettes, etc. In fact, like modern men, these two characters sometimes would be more interested in the working of the technology than the ladies they have brought home.
These two men struck it off and became good friends. With his TV show on the air, Bob had no problem getting women, and John reaped some benefits as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bashful's DVD Summary #032 Jan. 27 2004
Format:DVD
Best:
1) It gives you the details behind Bob Crane's wild sex life and subsequent murder (except the absolute identity of his killer).
2) Greg Kinnear was the best choice to play Bob (Hogan). Willem Dafoe also did a good job as his ever-present photographer friend.
3) There was a decent amount of female nudity throughout (although from unknown actors).
4) There are special features including commentary tracks and behind-the-scenes shows.
Worst:
1) If you didn't watch the TV series "Hogan's Heroes" back in the 1960's (reruns on cable don't count), then you won't find anything interesting in this partial biography.
2) For a movie that is about the sexploits of two wild swingers (Crane and his photographer), there wasn't much sex. Much more time is spent talking about the process of setting of their new-fangled video equipment to record their sessions.
Recommendation:
If you're REALLY interested in the last 20 years of Bob Crane's life, especially the scandal behind his tragic death, then this one is a must-have. Everybody else will probably find this movie boring. Buy this one cheap (or rent it) because you may never watch it again.
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3.0 out of 5 stars One of the most famous sitcom stars on your tv June 12 2004
By A Customer
Format:DVD
Done in the vein of those cable behind the scenes documentaries, the story that unfolds is not that unique or even surprising. We sort of know what is going to happen to Bob...the fame, the obsession ( sex ) so complete that to him it seems normal, the concurrent decline in career, all hell breaking loose...
WHat makes the movie "fun" is that the performance of Kinnear and Dafoe remind us of the capacity for self destruction, even when the cards dealt seem a winning hand.
IT is almost comedic, in a sad way, the precision with which the boys go about their after hours entertainment, with humorous looks at the new stuff in home video, introduced to Crane by his buddy John ( the Sony Betamax). There is a lack of tension in a story that really is not a story...the predictability made acceptable by the chance to look at the crash. The movie almost seems to be entirely about Bob's sexual versus job performances, and At least you can say that it has a sort of guided percision in that sense...the movie IS in focus.
Dafoe in particular is excellent, and Kinnear portrays convincingly how obsession of any kind can lead to ruin.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Mediocre Biopic Feb. 25 2004
Format:DVD
Paul Shrader's "Auto Focus" should have been a better movie than it turned out to be. For starters, it's hard to get past the fact that Greg Kinnear looks nothing like Bob Crane; Kinnear's narrow face and aw shucks expression mismatches Crane's boyish demeanor and beguiling, if smug, looks, and the hair is styled and even parted the wrong way. In fact, everyone except the chunky actor portraying the late Werner Klemperer just seems coarse and bony when compared to their real life counterparts. My, how times have changed. In much the same way, the rest of "Auto Focus" is anemic somehow, mostly because the script focuses on the broad strokes of Crane's tragic life, without subtlety or nuance. Further, the sex and nudity are devoid of spark, which seems odd in a film designed to explore the lure of sexual addiction. Clearly, it's a low-budget film, and while the re-creation of the "Hogan's Heroes" sets are nostalgic, the other elements seem a parody of late 1960s through mid-1970s fad and fashion, like the more recent "Brady Bunch" sets and costumes. The result is that "Auto Focus" never quite feels enough like a docudrama to elicit tears and never quite enough like a parody to elicit laughs, which left me unsatisfied. Even the presence of Willem DaFoe--appropriately pathetic here--can't quite lift "Auto Focus" to the heights it seeks.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
Never knew how he met his end. Interesting life he led while his starlight was fading. boy did this guy did alot of whoring around...lol.
Published 5 months ago by Gerry Madden
1.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs down! Zero stars.
Disgusting. I mistakenly thought this DVD was about this guys career as a Hogan Heroes star and trials he suffered up until his death. Read more
Published on May 29 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Bob Crane, the tragedy...
Auto Focus is a tragedy based on Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear) who was a radio personality before he became the star of the 1960s television show Hogan's Heroes. Read more
Published on April 4 2004 by Kim Anehall
4.0 out of 5 stars Tragedy based on Bob Crane...
Auto Focus is a tragedy based on Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear) who was a radio personality before he became the star of the 1960s television show Hogan's Heroes. Read more
Published on March 31 2004 by Kim Anehall
2.0 out of 5 stars kind of mediocre
I guess I would rate this in the middle. Bob Crane died when I was young. I loved watching the repeats of Hogan's Heroes before going to kindergarten. Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2004 by mail
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Biopic
Bob Crane, the lovable character was "Hogan's Heroes" led a double life a devoted family man and comedian to his friends and a porn-obsessed guy in private. Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2004 by Diaspora Chic
3.0 out of 5 stars A must see but maybe not a must buy
Mr Schrader is something of an artist/anthropologist/moral conscience of American society. In this instance he unveils one consequence of the objectification of women. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2004 by Ian Muldoon
3.0 out of 5 stars A must see perhaps not a must own
Paul Schrader is something of an anthropologist/artist in the way in which he chronicles American society, especially its obsessions. Pornography is clearly one such obsession. Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2004 by Ian Muldoon
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent look at a flawed man
Most people familiar with Hollywood lore know the Bob Crane story: "Hogan's Heroes", fame, obsession with sex, over-indulgence, burn-out, mysterious death. Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2004 by Snake Plissken
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