Auto Focus: In which I talk about Willem Dafoe some more

Willem Dafoe is a great actor. He is never really bad in any flick, even if he’s in bad movies.

This sucks, but Dafoe is still pretty good

However, Dafoe works best in good movies alongside good actors and other than Dafoe Auto Focus has an incredible cast of character actors and actresses, Maria Bello (A History of Violence) Rita Wilson (Jingle All the Way), Ed Begley Jr. (Pineapple Express) and That Guy from Wayne’s World (Wayne’s World) but the star of the show is Greg Kinnear as Bob Crane.

A little bit of history. Bob Crane was an actor and radio DJ who after years in background/supporting roles got his big break starring in the 1960’s prison camp comedy Hogan’s Heroes. I’ve seen a few episodes of Hogan’s Heroes and I must say that it’s quite funny and Bob Crane certainly was a great comic actor. This is the perfect role for Greg Kinnear because Crane was obviously presented as a clean-cut all-American family man, which is Greg Kinnear’s bread and butter.

"I'm a really the nicest guy ever according to every movie I've ever been in."

Then Bob Crane meets an A/V superstar named John Carpenter (not the Sci-fi/action movie maker_. John Carpenter worked for Sony and got all sorts of new gadgets including home video cameras.

Carpenter, Crane and a British dude from Hogan’s Heroes started hanging out at strip clubs, where Bob liked to unwind first by playing drums in the house band and later by cheating on his wife (Rita Wilson) at John Carpenter’s “pad” where carpenter filmed them in a very leering, creepy sort of way.

By now you probably realize that John Carpenter is played by Willem Dafoe, I mean is there an actor alive who does leering and creepy better than Willem Dafoe?

Answer: No, no there isn't

So instead of being a bio pic about an actor and his work, Auto Focus is about a relatively famous dude, his sex addiction, and his creepy best friend who enables that addiction. Bob Crane as portrayed in this flick is a sex addict* making Bob Crane sort of an old school David Duchovny, except I’m sure it was way more surprising to find out about Bob Crane’s sex addiction.

I mean look at this guy, doesn't he just give off that kind of vibe

Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe should go down in cinematic history with other great best friend duos, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and Gumby and Pokey. These two dudes kick ass, well actually they don’t, they have this gross symbiotic relationship where Dafoe needs Kinnear to get ladies and Kinnear needs Dafoe to get him equipment so he can film himself doing ladies, but through all of this despicable behavior Kinnear and Dafoe make you give a shit, you care about their friendship, even though you shouldn’t because you know it ultimately ends up in a very bad place. I mean it’s based on a book called The Murder of Bob Crane.

Auto Focus was directed by Paul Schrader, who wrote Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ and a few others that I have heard are great, as well as directed American Gigolo and the movie where Jeff Goldblum has to pretend to be a dog for Willem Dafoe in order to survive the holocaust. What I’m saying is, this guy knows his shit, so it may look like Auto Focus would be a lesser work in comparison to his other works, but Auto Focus really is good enough to hold it’s on in that list.

* I believe this films portrayal of Bob Crane because it’s based on a book by Robert Graysmith who is the dude who wrote the book Zodiac which was the basis of the great movie Zodiac in which Jake Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith*


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