Auto Focus (2/10)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


Bob Crane was a second-rate disk jockey in Los Angeles who became an undistinguished star of an imbecilic sitcom that became a hit.  He was also a sex addict who came to a violent end.  Why such a person is deserving of a Hollywood biographical film is beyond me, but the filmmakers went to the right guy to write and direct.  Paul Schrader has made a career of making mediocre films about sex.  Unfortunately, Auto Focus doesnít rise to Schraderís previous level.

 The story is that after Crane (Greg Kinnear) is cast in Hoganís Heroes, he turns a fondness for pornography into an obsession for sex.  ďA day without sex is a waste,Ē he and his buddy, John Carpenter (Willem Dafoe), continuously say to one another.

 Carpenter is a sleazy expert in the new technology of videotape recorders (itís circa 1965).  So, in addition to picking up women for sex every night, they tape them and watch them later.  As played by Kinnear, Crane is a sociopath with no emotions but horniness.  He loses his wife and family with no remorse.  The only things he worries about, it seems, are his career, which, after Hogan, is limited to dinner theater around the country, and getting as much sex as he can, not necessarily in that order.

 Seemingly copying from Y Tu Mama Tambien, the dirty movie earlier this year, Schrader even adds a scene of dual masturbation, but, again, we just see the two men moving their arms without seeing what theyíre actually doing. This film isnít even erotic, despite a lot of female nudity.  In fact, itís hypocritical in that it shows a substantial amount of frontal female nudity but we never see Crane or Carpenter fully nude.  Whatís wrong, Paul, no guts?  This film is about the sexual addiction of Crane and Carpenter but it canít bring itself to show them in all their glory. It seems to me that if you want to wallow in this rubbish, you might as well have the courage to go all the way.  Donít Kinnear and Dafoe have what it takes?  Watching this cowardly double standard reminded me of Woody Allenís line that itís all right to laugh in bed as long as you donít point.

 Kinnear and Dafoe have shown to be good actors in the past.  This film should do nothing positive for their careers.

 Auto Focus is a complete waste of time.

 The End