After Hours (1985)
June 15, 2022 6:53 AM - Subscribe

Office drone Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) takes a cab to new love interest Marcy's downtown apartment. His $20 bill flies out the window during the ride, leaving him unable to pay. He spends the rest of the night trying to return uptown, enduring a series of awkward, surreal and life-threatening situations with a colorful cast of characters. Bursting with frantic energy and tinged with black humor, After Hours is a masterful -- and often overlooked -- detour in Martin Scorsese's filmography.

91% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently available for digital rental in the US via the usual outlets.
posted by DirtyOldTown (14 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by wabbittwax at 7:15 AM on June 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed the film. I also enjoyed the scandalous back story. ("Minor details" is nuts. It's literally a complete word-for-word ripoff, including the bagel paperweights. But, it's also a very good film!)
posted by eotvos at 7:59 AM on June 15, 2022 [5 favorites]

I always think of this movie and The Color of Money as a pair of vital palate cleansers that Scorsese needed to make after the crushing failure of his first attempt to make Last Temptation of Christ. He had to get his confidence back and it obviously worked, because his next movie was Last Temptation.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:06 AM on June 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

Out of all the Scorsese cameos in his own movies, this one, where he shows up in a military uniform for some reason while shining a spotlight down on the dancefloor crowd in a booth at a punk club, is by far the silliest.

Ebert's 2009 assment has interesting detail like Scorsese wanting to make a deliberately "all style" film, and suggesting Griffin Dunne's travails were meant to mirror Scorsese's troubles with The Last Temptation of Christ, which Paramount had just cancelled weeks before filming was set to begin:

"I thought it would be interesting to see if I could go back and do something in a very fast way. All style. An exercise completely in style. And to show they hadn't killed my spirit."...Scorsese has suggested that Paul's implacable run of bad luck reflected his own frustration during the "Last Temptation of Christ" experience.

Executives kept reassuring him that all was going well with that film, backers said they had the money, Paramount green-lighted it, agents promised it was a "go," everything was in place, and then time after time an unexpected development would threaten everything. In "After Hours," each new person Paul meets promises that they will take care of him, make him happy, lend him money, give him a place to stay, let him use the phone, trust him with their keys, drive him home - and every offer of mercy turns into an unanticipated danger. The film could be read as an emotional autobiography of that period in Scorsese's life.

More from Ebert:

It lacks, as nearly as I can determine, a lesson or message, and is content to show the hero facing a series of interlocking challenges to his safety and sanity. It is "The Perils of Pauline" told boldly and well.

Eh, I'd agree with boldly but am not sure about well. Rewatched on a Scorsese kick a few years back and found it a mostly clichéd journey into a middle class dude's constant castration anxiety (some of the dick chopping stuff is really obvious). The women in particular seemed like tired caricatures (Terri Garr's ditziness that turns vindictive after Paul rejects her advances, e.g.). I could see a funny, biting movie exploring that kind of thing, but this isn't it. Was honestly surprised to find it so meh; I recall thinking it was just ok when I saw it in the theater ages ago but went into a rewatch with years of "Scorsese's lost 80s classic" in my head. Don't expect much more than "Perils of Pauline" with unpredictable women in the mustachioed villain role and you may have better luck.
posted by mediareport at 8:11 AM on June 15, 2022 [4 favorites]

It would probably be accurate, if not charitable, to suggest that all the female characters in this film reflect different kinds of misogynistic nightmare scenarios. Women amirite?
posted by wabbittwax at 9:28 AM on June 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

I don't think the film is misogynistic so much as literally everyone he encounters turns out to be dangerous. The film has its own nightmare logic and there are are no heroic women because nobody is heroic and everybody is terrifying.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:40 PM on June 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

I think that this movie wanted to be what Something Wild was.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:24 PM on June 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

Fair point, UrsulaH, even Cheech and Chong are far from harmless.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:16 PM on June 15, 2022

Dirty Old Town, you're compiling a hell of a "to rewatch" list for me over the last few days!

I think that this movie wanted to be what Something Wild was.

I feel like if Scorsese wanted to make Something Wild we would have ended up with Something Wild. Maybe the funny bits would be less funny than they were in Demme's hands, but the violent bits are more typical Scorsese than this surreal collection. I mean, it has a scene lifted verbatim from Kafka. He delivered what he wanted.
posted by mark k at 8:40 PM on June 15, 2022

I think I'd agree with UH's assessment that After Hours isn't necessarily misogynistic but I'd also say most of the women in Scorsese's films tend to be, to quote media report above, tired caricatures. As this film is largely style it isn't as irritating as it tends to be in his other films. It might also be why I like this one better than a lot of his other films.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:20 PM on June 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

best 80s NYC movie imho
posted by kokaku at 8:42 AM on June 16, 2022

It is a great showcase for New York, especially since it takes place in SoHo and was really shot there. Many of the locations are on Spring Street. I haven’t tried to track everything that happens on a map but I have a feeling that you could do that.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:52 AM on June 16, 2022

I saw this in first run and it completely creeped me out. My emotional identification with the Griffin Dunne character was total.
posted by hwestiii at 2:46 PM on June 19, 2022

This was the first movie where I realized some movies just open and go.
posted by rhizome at 2:11 AM on June 25, 2022

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