Auto Focus -- Director Paul Schrader's look at the life and dark times of Bob Crane -- the man who starred in Hogan's Heroes -- is aided by a spot-on performance by Greg Kinnear in the lead. But the story itself is continually fascinating. Crane, happily married, became a TV star, then developed a sexual addiction, which led to a secret life involving pornography. He met a nasty end. The film starkly suggests what might have happened. Willem Dafoe costars. (ES) Rated: R
The Comedian -- If you've been plaintively watching your reruns of Seinfeld and missing ol' Jerry, take heart. The Comedian chronicles 18 months of Seinfeld's touring comedy act, capturing not only his "concert" gigs but also the behind-the-scenes process of turning new life experiences (i.e., getting married, having a baby and saying goodbye to his eponymous show) into fresh comedic material. Also starring Colin Quinn, Kevin Nealon and Garry Shandling. Rated: R
I Spy -- A funny Eddie Murphy movie: there's a high-concept pitch. With I Spy, Owen Wilson's sly wake-and-bake lassitude makes an ideal comic foil to Eddie Murphy's banty-rooster cockiness; there are two scenes I won't describe where the pair are nothing less than comedic helium. Opening with an avalanche scene that seems like XXX-lite, I Spy is zingy studio product until you get Wilson, as a second-tier spy hotshot and Murphy, as a champion boxer who refers to himself in the third person, in the same room. (RP) Rated: PG-13
Punch Drunk Love -- Anyone who accused Paul Thomas Anderson of getting into a rut with Boogie Nights and Magnolia has some tongue-biting to do now. This one is different, not only from those films but from everything else, too. Adam Sandler delivers an edgy, inward performance as a lonely small business owner who errs by calling a phone sex service just as he meets a terrific woman (Emily Watson). From there, it's kind of tough to figure what else this is about. Very offbeat, for both Sandler and Anderson. (ES) Rated: R
Santa Clause 2 -- Eight years after the original Santa Clause, Tim Allen finally reads the fine print on his contract and realizes he either needs to find a Mrs. Claus or he's out of a job. While he's out conducting auditions, his stand-in is wreaking havoc back at the North Pole. All we want to know is, doesn't it seem a little early to be releasing a holiday film? Rated: G
The Skins -- Smoke Signals director Chris Eyre returns with this story of a Lakota Sioux family affected by the Vietnam War. A tribal policeman, Rudy, attempts to understand his older, unemployed and alcoholic brother Mogie, who returned from Vietnam a changed man. Based on the novel by Adrian C. Louis and filmed on location at the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Rated: R
Sunshine State -- Sayles' 14th feature in just over 20 years, Sunshine State is often a joy to watch, and this in spite of nearly two and a half hours of melodrama and speechifying, not to mention Sayles' usual reserved filmmaking style. Set in the fictional rundown enclave of Plantation Island, Florida, two women navigate through their lives and numerous secondary characters. The Sopranos' Edie Falco is great as the sexy, sexual, obstinate, funny, and iron-willed Marly Temple. Angela Bassett is equally as good as Desiree, who has returned to the island after leaving in disgrace at 15. With Timothy Hutton, Jane Alexander and James McDaniel. (RP) Rated: PG-13. Showing at the Met on Monday, Nov. 4 at 5:30 and 8:15 pm and Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 2:30 and 8:15 pm.
& lt;i & Capsule reviews are written by Ed Symkus (ES) and Ray Pride (RP), unless otherwise noted. & lt;/i &
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