Paul Schrader's Auto-Focus sets its gaze on the life and sordid death of Hogan's Heroes star Bob Crane. A devout family man, Crane lives in Southern California with his wife and two children working as a successful DJ. However, Crane's life beings to change when his agent proposes he take a role on the CBS pilot Hogan's Heroes, which soon after becomes a smash hit. With Crane's new found celebrity he begins a close friendship with audio-visual guru, John Carpenter, which sees them cruising late night strip clubs for tail. Being one of the few times which Paul Schrader didn't write the material he directs, Auto-Focus is a candid look into the double life of Bob Crane, a man whose public wholesome image couldn't be further from the truth. The film is well written, featuring a script that is capable of handling both the witty comedy and dark drama that this film presents. The dichotomy of Bob Crane's life is really the heart of the film with Schrader seamlessly transitioning from Crane the happy family man to Crane the sex addict. One example of this being a sequence where Bob Crane is being interviewed by a Christian publication where he talks about being happily married for 15 years. As Crane talks about how happily married he is, Schrader cuts to a mini-montage of Crane committing adultery with a slew of woman. Auto Focus isn't out to demonize Bob Crane but simply investigate his psyche, with Schrader using some nice surreal and experimental-type moments to capture this man who is torn between his dual lives. The color palette of the film seems to change drastically towards the end of the film going from bright and colorful to a darker subdued color scheme capturing Crane's loneliness and isolation in his later years. Maybe it's just me, but the camera work also seems to be more chaotic towards the end of the film, mimicking Crane's fading grip on reality. While I am not sure it's intentional it's fascinating how the advancements in technology run in correlation with Crane's increasing addiction/obsession with sex. Whether or not Schrader was commenting on technologies impact on the ease of use is debatable, it's certainly an interesting anecdote. When Auto Focus came to an end I couldn't help but wonder how Bob Crane would have felt about this film, considering he is portrayed as man who in the beginning seems to question his morals but soon after begins to live in denial to the point of the audience feeling sorry for him.
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