Pike's Peak Picks

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Know I'm way late to the party, but I've decided I'm going to make one of these here threads where I post reviews and thoughts on some of my favorite flicks. I'll probably start with my current top hundred, then build from there. Eventually. I am not going to do it in a countdown style, or even alphabetically. I'll just throw 'em up randomly, one at a time, when the mood strikes me. Probably very slowly.

No, no, please: hold your applause.

Alphabetical running list of films reviewed
After Hours
A Boy & His Dog
Pennies from Heaven
The Wild Bunch

*to be updated with each addition
"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

Alrighty. Kicking it off with what is probably not the "best" Scorsese film, but may very well be my favorite...

After Hours
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Screenplay by Joseph Minion
Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus
CAST: Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Linda Fiorentino, John Heard,
Teri Garr, Catherine O'Hara, Verna Bloom, Will Patton, Dick Miller,
Bronson Pinchot, Cheech & Chong
1985, approximately 97 minutes

After Hours is an extremely dark comedy, a Kafkaesque nightmare of guilt and big city paranoia. The story centers on Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), a bored computer programmer in some nondescript Mid-town NYC office. His apartment is as drab and empty as the rest of his life. One evening while reading alone at a coffee shop Paul meets Marci (Rosanna Arquette), a sexy blond. They have a breezy, flirty talk about Henry Miller and art and whatever. She makes mention of a friend's loft in SoHo where she's staying, finds an excuse to drop the phone number into the conversation, and then she's gone. On a whim and the whiff of possible romance Paul calls her as soon as he gets home. She invites him out into the night, and though it is late and a weeknight he accepts. And so begins his odyssey.

What follows is a dark, twisted, hilarious series of misadventures as things spin further and further out of Paul's control and he seems stuck in the Hell of downtown after midnight and before sunrise. The movie is populated with a multitude of intriguingly bizarre characters played to the hilt by an eclectic cast. Griffin Dunne (An American Werewolf in London) is the perfect protagonist to put through this kind of urban torture, a neurotic version of the everyman. Rosanna Arquette (Desperately Seeing Susan) simply is Marci, the hot-and-cold, always weird, but extremely sexy girl that coaxes him into this whole mess. Among the other odd denizens of the night are Teri Garr (Young Frankenstein, Mr. Mom) as a bee-hived waitress ("Do you like the Monkees?"), Cheech & Chong as a couple of roaming burglars, John Heard (Big, Home Alone) as a friendly bartender, Will Patton (No Way Out, The Postman) as a leather-bound tough guy, Catherine O'Hara ("SCTV", Best in Show) as an ice cream truck driver, and Linda Fiorentino (Men in Black, The Last Seduction) as the moody, half-dressed sculptress of Plaster-of-Paris bagel & cream cheese paperweights. Every role, no matter how small, is perfectly cast, from the cab driver to the bouncer outside the club to the token seller in the subway. The cab driver shoots a look of anger and annoyance that is so genuine I cringe and laugh every time I see it - a look I recognize instantly and all too well from personal experience.

Every situation, every character, every line, every camera move is so audacious yet nuanced that you MUST watch the flick multiple times to begin to take it all in. The tone is patently unnerving. Scorsese is a master of...well, many things, including editing a film so that the audience becomes emotionally locked into what is happening on screen. In After Hours that means you are empathetic witness to a nightmare. It's an amazing movie and a whole lot of fun. As Paul gets stuck deeper and deeper into he Hellish quagmire of the SoHo district you can't help but feel for the guy - and laugh at him too. The entire plot is patently unlikely, but that's not the point. This is the stuff that surreal nightmares are made of, not pithy anecdotes. As the night rolls on and the tension builds it becomes more and more hilarious. Well, it's hilarious if you find suicide and blood-thirsty mobs to be breeding grounds for comedy. Did I mention the mob is being led by a Mr. Softee Ice Cream truck playing a tinkling jingle? This is grotesque dark humor at its finest.

It's a wonderful script by Joseph Minion (Vampire's Kiss), who was an NYU student at the time. Longtime Marty collaborators Thelma Schoonmaker and Michael Ballhaus are along for the editing and cinematography chores, and Howard Shore (The Silence of the Lambs, SE7EN, The Lord of the Rings) adds a playfully haunting score. This is some of Schoonmaker's best work, right up there with Raging Bull and GoodFellas. Scorsese and Ballhaus really have some fun with stylized, exaggerated camera movement, so much so that you may want to take a Dramamine before you watch.

After Hours received very mixed reviews back in 1985, but it did nab Scorsese the Best Director at Cannes, a nomination for Dunne at the Golden Globes, and it won Best Feature at the very first Independent Spirit Awards. This is a brilliant movie that still too-few people seem to know very well today, and one that I force upon folks, constantly. Usually whenever I do they are blown away and wonder why they've never heard of it.

I love this movie, and for many years I never took a trip to NYC without watching it, first.

After Hours odds and ends:

  • Scorsese has a Hitchcockian type cameo, operating the spotlight in the rafters of the Club Berlin.

  • Martin Scorsese's parents Charles & Catherine, who appear in many of his films, are visible in the background as two patrons at the mid-town diner where Paul and Marci first meet.

  • Amy Robinson, one of the producers on the film, co-starred in Scorsese's Mean Streets

  • Scorsese was the first choice by the producers to direct the film. He initially passed due to gearing up production for the first attempt at The Last Temptation of Christ. After Hours was subsequently given to a young Tim Burton on the strength of his short "Vincent" but before Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. It would have been his feature debut. After that incarnation of Last Temptation fell apart and Scorsese became available again, Burton graciously and happily bowed out of the project.

  • Teri Garr's character plays a Monkees record in her apartment. She appeared in the cult late-60s film Head (1968) starring the Monkees, directed by Bob Rafelson, and written by Jack Nicholson.

  • Released eight months apart in 1985, at the time natural comparisons were drawn between Scorsese's film and John Landis' Into the Night which follows Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer on an unlikely odyssey late one evening around Los Angeles. After Hours is also often compared to Jonathan Demme's Something Wild (1986) starring Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith which was released about a year after Scorsese's film. Something Wild is where Scorsese first became aware of Ray Liotta before casting him in GoodFellas.

  • Joseph Minion also wrote the teleplay for "Mirror, Mirror", the episode of Steven Spielberg's anthology series "Amazing Stories" that Scorsese directed.

  • After Hours was Joseph Minion's thesis at NYU's film program. After the movie's release a lawsuit was filed and a settlement reached when monologist and radio artist Joe Frank claimed that a large section of the script was lifted almost whole from one of his pieces titled "Lies" that aired on NPR's Playhouse in 1982.

I didn't realize Teri Garr was in Head. I'll have to finally watch this movie now just for the Monkees record.

After Hours is an awesomely surreal Scorsese film, great write up, and fun facts. I was not aware that his parents made Cameos in his films

Great review Holden. Weirdly enough i actually watched After Hours because i seen a highly positive review from you on the Scorcese thread you made. Scorcese is my favourite director and i'd say this is my fourth best of his, after Taxi Driver,The King of Comedy and Goodfellas. Overall i thought it was a great review but this just perfectly sums the movie up for me - "Scorsese is a master of...well, many things, including editing a film so that the audience becomes emotionally locked into what is happening on screen. In After Hours, that means you are empathetic witness to a nightmare."

After Hours is an awesomely surreal Scorsese film, great write up, and fun facts. I was not aware that his parents made Cameos in his films
His parents both appeared in his films, up until their deaths. His father passed after The Age of Innocence, his mother after Casino. Mrs. Scorsese's most famous and wonderful appearance is as Tommy Devito's (Joe Pesci) mother in GoodFellas. She's also quite funny as Rupert Pupkin's mother in The King of Comedy, unseen but always yelling at him from upstairs ("Lower it!").

Charles has highlighted supporting roles in Raging Bull and GoodFellas. He's actually the mobster with the cane walking into the room when Tommy gets whacked out ("And that's that."), the one who slices garlic with a razor blade in prison.

Consider that a small downpayment on my future GoodFellas review.


Great insight on After Hours. I saw it at the movies when it came out, and I remember not thinking much of it. But I was only 14 at the time. Now, Scorsese is my favorite director, and I love dark comedy. I put it on my to see list; I feel as though it could become a favorite of mine.

Great review. After Hours was like an out-of-body experience for me. Everything about the film is perfect.

28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
I love After Hours. Ever have a bad day? Pop this on and remind yourself it could be worse.
"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

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