After Hours

After Hours ★★★★½

Holy what in the 2 am?!
Believe it or not, After Hours might just be my most anticipated film of all time. Martin Scorsese's 1985 gem was one I've waited so damn long to see and it did not disappoint one bit. When they said 'worst night ever', they weren't kidding. And I'm here for all of it.

After Hours is, above all, an experience like no other. Set in the grimy and smoky streets of New York City, the film follows regular word processor Paul Hackett as his night takes a turn for the worst. The movie itself has a dreamlike feel to it, like things that are happening are so out of hand you refuse to believe it. Nightmarish then, in that regard. I think it's the world spinning in all the exact opposite directions you wanted captured on film. It is manic, it is ominous, it is anxiety-inducing, it is somewhat comedic, it is sensual, it punk rock and attitude, and it is unforgettable. Marty has never done something quite like this but I'm not that surprised that he pulled it off so well because he's Martin Scorsese (duh...cinema).

Beneath all the frenetic energy of After Hours, there lies an important question. After Hours asks, "What do you want?"
If you think answering the question would be easy as one-two-three, you might want to think again after seeing this movie.
Consumed by his monotonous work, Paul Hackett knows he wants more out of life than a paperweight he's looking for. Through the rest of the night, he will want sex, some cash, some rest, or just some thing. Back and forth we go through with him through this crazy ride as he tries to determine what he really wants, while also being a terrible person in the process. I guess that's what a rough night does, you know?
After Hours simultaneously feels like a search and an escape. It's going to toy with your mind and your composure. Paul may not be a likable human being but I believe there's a part of him in all of us who go through a Kafkaesque experience day in and say out trying to figure out what we truly want. So yeah you can say this movie is a big mood.

Scorsese's (complicated) love for NYC is unmatched and the cinematography in After Hours is unbelievable. Michael Ballhaus knocked it out of the park with the lighting and the constantly-mobile camerawork that keeps the viewer on edge for what happens next. Didn't know Howard Shore was involved with the project but what a musical score combining classical and synth elements. And the soundtrack is punchy as hell too. Thelma Schoonmaker's editing is on point as you would expect. Joseph Minion's screenplay was clever, fun, and deep all the same and Marty did one heck of a job directing this.

Griffin Dunne looks like Noah Baumbach and plays the central character Paul. This is the first time I've ever seen him in anything, and what a performance! He nails that everyman look and the neurotic outbursts of his character. It's cool to see Marty working with actors not named Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, or Leonardo DiCaprio, so casting Griffin Dunne for the part was an excellent move for this lesser-known production. I wish we could've seen more collaborations between Dunne and Scorsese but their only movie together is a keeper.
The ensemble cast also includes Rosanna Arquette, Linda Florentino, Catherine O'Hara, and John Heard among others. All of the actors do an amazing job of performing and immersing you in this world.

While I can't single out a flaw for After Hours at the moment, I'm not ready to give it a five yet for some reason. Maybe I felt it was too long (despite just being over an hour-and-a-half in length) but I think that comes with the nightmarish experience and vibe of the movie. It does tremendously well if that's the case and I was thoroughly engaged with the happenings on screen for the entire runtime. A rewatch might do the trick but I don't really know. I still love it and this is one of Scorsese's absolute best in my opinion and y'all should go see it.

I'm so happy to have finally seen After Hours after all this time! I'm positive this is going to make my all-time favorites list, too. It's an engrossing trip anyone should take a shot at. It's best coming in empty if I might add. With all you can ask for in a good movie, After Hours is an overlooked masterpiece from one of cinema's greatest filmmakers. And after all of that, I still can't get over it. It's gonna take some time.
Anyway, thank you again so much for reading and I sincerely hope you all have a significantly better day (or night) than this Paul guy!

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