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After Hours review
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by Dane Youssef


"After Hours" is a surrealistic experience. It's also one of Scorsese's lesser-known gems and as far as I'm concerned, everything the man has so much as ever sneezed on is a gem. I know that sounds very sad and slavishly faithful, (but keep in mind that the man has a great reputation for spinning cinematic gold with about everything he does). I know I sound like some kind of medication and therapy, but to that, I simply ask you all: Has the man ever made a bad movie?

Many have complained that pretty much all of his movies are kinda the same. "Mean Streets," "Raging Bull," "Casino" and "Taxi Driver."

Griffin Dunne is Paul Hacket, a computer programmer who is just going through the motions and has an empty social life. He strikes up a conversation with a nice lady named Marcy (Rosanna Arquette) at a local restaurant over a novel they've both read. Words are exchanged. So are looks. She seems interested. He's hooked.

And from the split-second he gets into that cab, the nightmare begins. The cab blows like mad through the busy streets of downtown SoHo. And after his transportation money literally goes out the window, so do Paul's chance of getting home. He has no idea how deep he's in. At first, it just seems like he's the victim of some bad luck.

He encounters a lot on those dark streets after hours. Unpleasant night owls, severe misunderstandings and eventually the next thing he knows, poor Paul is running for his very life.

He encounters a lot on those dark streets after hours. Unpleasant night owls, severe misunderstandings and eventually the next thing he knows, poor Paul is running for his very life.

Now many of you may be asking, "Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is a thriller? Is it a horror show?" Yes.

It's... it's like a dream about something that really happened to you. It all plays out like a dream about "the strangest night of my life...." And everyone's had that one long, weird night where they were stranded somewhere.... just stuck. No money, no ride. And all the weirdos and sickos all come out from their hiding-places.

"They only come out at night," as they say.

I don't want to give too much away because this is a movie where surprise after surprise. There's a whole domino effect here as everything leads to a big final act where we fear for Paul and his safety, and our own. Because it feels like we have become Paul.

The movie features a first-rate all-star cast. Rosanna Arquette, Verna Bloom, Tommy Chong, Linda Fiorentino Teri Garr, John Heard, Cheech Marin, Catherine O'Hara, Dick Miller, Will Patton, Robert Plunket and Bronson Pinchot.

This is the most surprising thing to come from Martin Scorsese. Scorsese has been somewhat pigeon-holed as a director, making usually historical bio-pics about true-life Jewish/Itallian Immigrants growing up in the Bronx and embarking on a life of crime. Always operatic, always rich with detail. "A Night In SoHo" is the arrival of a new Scorsese. One who shows a frightening "what if?" story in the Big Apple involving anyone with a big-city nightlife.

If it wasn't for Scorsese's name in the credits, you'd never guess he was at the helm. You'd never imagine in a million years he ever had anything to do with the project. He uses a quiet, subtle feeling the movie has when it's... "too quiet" and the pumped-up feeling during the more intense dramatic scenes.

Scorsese is a master of suspense, mood and timing. The fact that the Academy continues to pass him for an Oscar time and time and time again is not only annoying. It's downright offensive. We all know too damn well that the Academy bases Oscars all on politics. Well, as far as I'm concerned, Scorsese has played by all the rules. His films are very well-made and intellectual. They have a graceful operatic feel to them. They are often all-too historically accurate bio-pics.

And it uses it. Every actor is perfectly cast. Everyone is allowed to stand out in a big way without being too contrived or too cartoonish to be real.

And Scorsese, who's name stands for quality above all others, makes the most of it.

Joseph Minion's screenplay (which he collaborated with Scorsese on) is used for all it's worth. All the characters are quirky, colorful, yet realistic. The dialog is smart and honest without being too unnaturally "screenwriter-ishly clever."

And 9 out of 10 New Yorkers who see this movie will smile and nod, "Yep. That's NYC at night to a T." Everyone else will be sure to avoid New York like a severe audit. Most people who live outside New York fear the city and plan never to go there.

I imagine this movie will do a lot to complete the trend.

My only real complaint is that Minion should have gotten more credit for his original and winning screenplay. He should have gotten maybe a few more nods from other academies, I'd never seen anything so intriguing and elaborate before. It's not just new. It's smart, fresh, well-crafted and all-too believable.

I know the American Academy would give an Oscar nomination to a film like this, but that's almost a sign of it's greatness. Scorsese gives it a realistic, yet outrageous feel and knows how to let the suspense draw out and build skillfully and Joseph Minion has written himself a little bitty treasure. I just wish he'd write so much more.

Still, this is a home run on every account. I say this and mean it: YOU ALL MUST SEE THIS MOVIE. Ask for it by name: "After Hours."

Thanks for reading....

by Dane Youssef










9 years ago on 10 September 2009 15:52