"auto focus" is film based on the secret life of bob crane (creepily portrayed by greg kinnear), the star of "hogan's heroes." it was the second of two dark films i watched last weekend. the other, "house of games," by contrast, now seems like a "g" rated disney movie. if only half of the material in "auto-focus" is true - crane was one very disturbed man. the film follows crane on his slow tragic descent from church-going, non-drinking, family man into the world of sex addiction and utter hedonism.
he is led down that rabbit hole of insanity and self-destruction by john carpenter (played by an equally creepy william defoe), a video technician and enabler. crane's fall starts off "innocently" with his sessions sitting in on drums at a local strip club after work on "hogan's hereos." unless checking out strip clubs after a day at the office seems normal, this activity is hardly the healthy path of unwinding most people would employ. that's the last bit of "normal" in this film!
kinnear hooks up with defoe and they morph into a pair of sleazy swingers out on the prowl. they become obsessed with cataloging each and every woman, each and every encounter - on video and in written logs. this too is way beyond the edge of normal. but it the context of that symbiotic relationship, they don't seem to find anything vaguely troubling in that the spend practically every waking hour obsessed sex. it's comical to see them lugging suitcases of videos and equipment thru airports because they can't "operate" with all those trappings!!
it this was a religious morality tale, the end couldn't be more fitting - or expected. when crane "breaks up" with carpenter - he wants to clean up his life (and that would be impossible with defoe in it) - crane is brutually murdered. we are led to believe that carpenter is the killer. he, of course, would be the most logical suspect. however, not only does carpenter avoid immediate indictment, more than a decade later when his is finally put on trial for crane's murder, he is acquitted! carpenter died maintaining his innocence.
at the end of "auto focus" i felt so dragged through the cesspool of crane's low-life debauchery that i needed a shower - two of them! defoe was so expert in his portrayal of crane's perverted, borderline psychotic, sidekick that if he'd morph into the green goblin it would actually provide the characters with some semblance of a moral compass!!
a fan of "hogan's hereos" unaware of crane's very seedy private life - should watch this film only at the risk of never, ever, ever, going back to the innocent viewing of 'hogan's heros" on television! it will forever alter your perception of bob crane. for the rest, it's a sickening view of one man's spiral downward into the depths of total immorality! it ain't pretty!this is not a film for the faint of heart - or anyone easily offended!