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AUTO FOCUS

Bob Crane, the seemingly homespun star of TV sitcom "Hogan’s Heroes," is in reality a sexaholic whose lewd lifestyle comes to an abrupt end with his murder.


CAST: Greg Kinnear, Willem Dafoe, Rita Wilson, Maria Bello, Ron Leibman, Bruce Solomon, Michael Rodgers, Kurt Fuller, Christopher Neiman, Lyle Kanouse

DIRECTOR: Paul Schrader

"In 'Auto Focus,' the strangely wonderful and weirdly touching new film from Paul Schrader, the comedy and the tragedy keep getting mixed up...Schrader has his own ideas on what made Crane run, and it's the filmmaker's sharp, at times startlingly funny read on the actor as both a figure of absurdity and tragedy that lifts 'Auto Focus' out of the gutter of tabloid biography...Kinnear is indispensable to the film's quicksilver changes. The performance is an amazing conjuring trick, not only technically but because Crane fundamentally comes across as a cipher." --Manohla Dargis, The Los Angeles Times

"'Auto Focus' gets to you like a low-grade fever, a malaise with no known antidote. When it was over, I wasn't sure if I needed a drink, a shower or a lifelong vow of chastity...this is the existential tragedy of a shallow man, who is less a person in his own right than the illustration of a condition....There is plenty of nudity in 'Auto Focus,' but you can always glimpse the abyss behind the undulating bodies, and the director leads you from easy titillation to suffocating dread, pausing only briefly and cautiously to consider the possibility of pleasure." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

" 'Auto Focus' certainly holds one's attention, but it's a strange and grim experience, ice-cold and borderline pointless...In the end, Crane and Carpenter are astonishingly uninteresting...some of Schrader's scenes cast a gruesome pall--say, the episode of the two men masturbating side by side as they watch the tapes together. Are we meant to feel pity? To laugh? The friendship is ludicrous without being funny." --David Denby, The New Yorker

" ‘Auto Focus’ merely sketches everything except the Crane-Carp relationship, which is the film's core…They are so intimate – they do incredibly private things in each other's presence so casually – that it indeed seems almost homosexual…during a particularly intense four-way mambo with two schlumpy pickups, Carp's hand ends up on Bob's netherparts, and when Bob views the video the next day, he is so scandalized…But if ‘Auto Focus’ answers everything about who did what to whom and who put whose hand where, it never answers the key question: Why should we care?…The whole package makes you yearn for the cleansing purity of a high colonic." --Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

"'Auto Focus' is a deep portrait of a shallow man, lonely and empty, going through the motions of having a good time...There is no lust or passion in this film, only mechanical courtship followed by desultory sex...Greg Kinnear gives a creepy, brilliant performance as a man lacking in all insight." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Kinnear, a revelation, drops his bright smile and goes to seed before our eyes, in another strikingly precise performance from one of Hollywood's most unexpectedly flexible actors...The direction is merciless, determined, grim, and inventive...Sex is joyless and killing in 'Auto Focus,' but within the scope of Schrader's zoom lens, the performances are vividly alive. Dafoe, whose rangy, vaguely menacing dramatic style complements the director's interests, does the hard work of creating a character whose lack of definition extends to his sexual orientation." --Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"'Auto Focus,' Schrader's strongest movie since 'Affliction,' is another meditation on American masculinity powerfully told with great wit and style." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post