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After Hours (1985)
- Martin Scorsese Movies (#15)
After Hours is a 1985 American black comedy film, written by Joseph Minion and directed by Martin Scorsese. Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), a New Yorker, experiences a series of adventures and perils in trying to make his way home from SoHo. Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), a word processor, meets Marcy Franklin (Rosanna Arquette) in a cafe. They converse about their common interest in Henry Miller. Marcy leaves Paul her number and informs him that she lives with a sculptor named Kiki Bridges (Linda Fiorentino), who makes and sells plaster of Paris paperweights resembling bagels. Later in the night, under the pretense of buying a paperweight, Paul visits Marcy, taking a cab to her apartment. On his way to visit Marcy, a $20 bill is blown out the window of the cab, leaving him with only some spare pocket change. The cab driver is furious that he can't pay, thereby beginning the first in a long series of misadventures for Paul that turn hostile through no fault of his own. At the apartment Paul meets the sculptor Kiki and Marcy.
By the end, Paul is on the run from an angry mob who thinks he's a burglar, fleeing in fear for his life. Will he escape? Well, rest assured that After Hours is actually a comedy. It's also one of my favorite Martin Scorsese movies (and a massive departure from his grittier fare), fresh every time you see it and full of little touches that you catch more of with each subsequent viewing. Check out the rows of Aqua Net in Garr's apartment. Or the 'tie' she's wearing.
Best of all, you really do relate to Dunne's Everyman. His situation is impossible, yet we've all had that one really bad night that, when we tried to explain it to someone else, it came out as pure comedy. At the same time, Scorsese's trifle is far deeper than a mere throwaway 'one crazy night' movie -- which are legion in the annals of cinema. Paul's ride through Manhattan is surreal to the point of breaking. His job is mind-numbing. He clearly has no friends. The situation is ludicrous. So... did it really happen? Or is it all in his imagination? Scorsese implies that the truth is somewhere in between -- that Dunne's malaise is so palpable he'll do anything to break out of it. (This is laid out and made hilarious in the opening scene, with Dunne training Bronson Pinchot in the finer arts of data entry, only to have Pinchot launch into a speech about how he's doing this only until he can get the funding to start up a magazine for intellectuals.)
If Kafka had been working in the 1980s (and Scorsese's send-up of urban chic clothing, design, and styles of the era is worth the price of admission alone), this is the story he'd have written.
This long-awaited DVD includes deleted scenes, selected scenes with feature commentary, and a 20-minute making-of retrospective that places After Hours in context with its genesis during Last Temptation of Christ's production problems. Make sure you check out the original ending storyboards... wow.