Sunday Films

Morvern Callar (UK, 2002, Lynne Ramsay, director): I was looking forward to seeing Samantha Morton in this, hoping that for once she’d have a role where she spoke more than a few sentences (having seen her in Sweet and Lowdown and Minority Report). Alas, she plays yet another nearly mute enigma. Although she’s fascinating to look at, she’s not given much to work with here. She plays the title character, who wakes up one morning to discover her boyfriend has killed himself in her kitchen, leaving his finished novel on the computer with instructions for her to submit it to a publisher for him. Instead, she puts her own name on the manuscript before submitting it, dumps his body, and takes a pal on holiday to Spain. Between shots of a hedonistic party lifestyle she apparently wants to leave behind, and some shots of her looking at her hand or insects, not much else happens. 6/10

Auto Focus (USA, 2002, Paul Schrader, director): Fascinating material here. Auto Focus is a film about the life and murder of TV actor Bob Crane, best known for playing the titular character in Hogan’s Heroes. The film traces Crane’s career during and after the series, focusing on his increasing involvement with John Carpenter, a man with whom he picked up women and made pornographic films. I was hoping that Schrader would try to dig a little under the surface, since obviously this man was leading a double life, but instead he gives us a strangely upbeat voice-over from Bob Crane, who can state with equal chirpiness “the show was a big hit” and “John Carpenter was acquitted of the murder.” It was almost as if the point he is trying to make is that Crane himself had no insight into his duality, and no real guilt, either. It made the film oddly unsatisfying, as if there should have been more “weight” to the story. Nonetheless, Greg Kinnear (as Crane) and Willem Dafoe were superb. 7.5/10

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