After Hours

After Hours ★★★★★

"Different rules apply when it gets this late."

The longer I'm home during quarantine, the more messed up my sleep schedule becomes. Lately, I've been casually staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning doing absolutely nothing important. I started watching After Hours at 2 in the morning to get in the right headspace to watch this film, and I love it even more than I did when I first watched it years ago. After Hours is yet another Martin Scorsese masterpiece.

After Hours perfectly taps into the restless and paranoid feeling that comes along with staying up all night. It's difficult to process things rationally as they occur, so the film presents a more surreal and dreamy narrative that flies by faster than a lucid dream. Opening with one of Scorsese's most frenzied and rushed dolly shots, the film does not lose this kinetic energy for a second. If the May 11th, 1980 sequence from GoodFellas was edited over the length of a feature film in a dreamlike state, the result would be After Hours.

Every component of filmmaking comes together wonderfully in After Hours. Thelma Schoonmaker does some of her strongest work editing this film. It's incredibly fast-paced, but it's not strung together with overtly choppy or flashy editing. Michael Ballhaus shoots this film with such hyper camera movements and energetic cinematography. Griffin Dunne gives a perfectly energized, startlingly awake performance as Paul Hackett. I don't know who Joseph Minion is, but I'm surprised that he isn't more well-known given how riveting, concise, and brilliant this screenplay is. Every plot thread and insignificant character comes back into play later in the film and it's all woven together so thoughtfully. Nothing is contrived despite the obvious demand that the narrative has for everything to continue moving.

This ultimately comes down to Martin Scorsese's direction. For any other director, After Hours would be their masterpiece. The Coen Brothers and the Safdie Brothers (what a nice coincidence that sibling director duos are drawn to stories like this) have achieved some of their best work by making movies depicting characters' sudden downward spirals in a fashion extremely similar to After Hours. But for Scorsese, this film is one of his lesser-known works, and goes massively overlooked when discussing his unparalleled filmography.

After Hours is both a nightmarish dream and a dreamy nightmare.

"Surrender Dorothy!"

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