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Warner Home Video presents
After Hours (1985)

Paul Hackett: Where are those plaster-of-Paris paperweights, anyway? I mean, that's what I came done here for in the first place. Well, that's not entirely true. I came to see you, but where are the paperweights? That's what I wanna see now.
Marcy: What's the matter?
Paul Hackett: I said I want to see a plaster-of-Paris bagel-and-cream-cheese paperweight. Now cough it up.
Marcy: Right now?
Paul Hackett: Yes, right now.
Marcy: They're in Kiki's bedroom.
Paul Hackett: Then get them. 'Cause as we sit here chatting there are important papers flying rampant around my apartment 'cause I don't have anything to hold them done with.

- Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: September 24, 2004

Stars: Griffin Dunne
Other Stars: Rosanna Arquette, John Heard, Linda Fiorentino, Teri Garr, Catherine O'Hara, Verna Bloom, Robert Plunket, Will Patton, Murray Moston, Thomas Chong, Cheech Marin
Director: Martin Scorsese

MPAA Rating: R for (violence, language, nudity, sexuality, drug use)
Run Time: 01h:37m:01s
Release Date: August 17, 2004
UPC: 085393995126
Genre: black comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ A-A-B- B+

DVD Review

Right off the bat the viewer knows that After Hours is going to be one helluva fast-paced ride. The opening credits pop onto the black screen with a neon glow and zoom by so fast that it's as if the film can't keep itself from exploding. And explode it does, with the opening shot rapidly pushing in on our unwitting hero as he works his dead end job. Anybody planning on seeing this movie should be forewarned that it is not a comedy in any traditional sense of the word.

Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) works as a word processor in Manhattan. He lives a button-down life and as the story begins is training a young man who certainly appears to be destined to suffer the same monotonous career that Paul is laboring through. After work, Paul meets a beautiful woman named Marcy (Rosanna Arquette) in a diner. The two discuss Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer and that is about the last normal thing that will happen to Paul on this night. Marcy gives him her number because Paul expresses interest in buying a plaster-of-Paris bagel-and-cream-cheese paperweight (get use to that phrase, it'll be said more in this film than probably anywhere else in the history of the world) from her roommate, Kiki (Linda Fiorentino). Later that night Paul decides to call the number so he can have a fun time on the town with a beautiful woman.

Up to this point in the story, Joseph Minion's script is a quirky, charming romantic comedy that promises a solid 90-minute story where the audience knows exactly what is going to happen. Then, as Paul takes a cab to SoHo, he crosses the River Styx and enters into Hades with no hope of return. His money flies out the window of the cab, leaving him broke as he gets ready for his big date. Then, Marcy is nowhere to be found when Paul arrives. Rather, he meets the papier-maché happy roommate Kiki, who creates her art while wearing a bra for a top. After Paul waits nearly 40 minutes, Marcy finally arrives at her apartment well after 1:00 in the morning. She and Paul begin to talk, but the subject is anything but first date material. She informs him that she was raped for nearly six hours in the very room the two are sitting in (she claims to have slept through most of it), tells him that she is married to a Wizard of Oz fanatic with one of the most bizarre sexual fantasies ever mentioned on screen, and then finally gives Paul some really bad pot. Paul has finally hit his breaking point and flips out.

In anger he leaves Marcy as she sobs, enters out onto the street where it begins to pour and decides to take the subway home. Only problem is that he has only 97 cents and the fare was raised to a buck-and-a-half at midnight. Now Paul finds himself stuck in SoHo and at the mercy of its citizens—and that's as far as this review will go in telling you what happens. Without giving away any more plot details, let it be said that Murphy's Law is a gross understatement for what happens to Paul as he meets a wide variety of bizarre people with even more bizarre behavior. Director Martin Scorsese creates a vividly surreal experience that never lets up. Most people probably would never suspect Scorsese could make a comedy, but he has done it here. It's as dark as midnight, but good God After Hours is funny. Whether its caused by the hilarious dialogue, the absurd situations, or pure anxiety on the part of the audience, laughter permeates a room when this film is shown.

New York's streets have never been meaner in a Scorsese film than they are here, with poor helpless Paul finding himself the butt of a nearly apocalyptic joke. This is the first film in Scorsese's career where he fully explodes visually. Both Taxi Driver and Raging Bull contain impressive, meticulous visuals, but here the cinematography by Michael Ballhaus razzles and dazzles from start to finish. The camera movement is like the script, always unpredictable but never distracting or out of character. In fact, this is the only way the film could have been shot. A more traditional, controlled manner of shooting would zap the desperation and paranoia out of the script and render it humorless. Accompanying the visuals is the score by Howard Shore, which is really more a collection of sound effects than a sequence of musical notes. Shore's work implants the sound of a ticking clock into Paul's head, and, like the great scores of Bernard Herrmann, keeps the audience on edge.

Scorsese's telling of Minion's script is quite impressive. Not only do the technical aspects of the film stand out, but so do the pacing and acting. Editor Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese's longtime collaborator, makes the visuals and sounds work to create a profusion of energy that will leave many viewers struggling to breathe, just like Paul is. The film borders on being too much, and indeed it might be for some viewers, but the performances bring just enough reality to give the audience some breathing room. Griffin Dunne (who also co-produced the film) is fantastic in the role of a man who can't believe what is happening to him. There's a look on Dunne's face and a delivery of his lines that eases up the kinetic energy of the film just enough to make it bearable. It is impossible to over emphasize the importance of Dunne's performance in making After Hours a success, but equally important is the casting of the other actors. Each of the people that Paul meets on his odyssey is steeped in mystery, but the actors playing them sell convincing performances that actually succeed in making one believe that such a person could be living next door to you. Teri Garr is marvelously hilarious, as are Catherine O'Hara and John Heard.

The 1980s saw the generic action genre rise to a new level of formula, but Martin Scorsese's After Hours is proof that there were original pieces of work sprinkled throughout that decade.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: After Hours is shown here in an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer that preserves the original aspect ratio. The colors are vibrant and never bleed, with compression artifacts next to nonexistent. Depth and detail are strong, as is the contrast, which creates a film-like look. A few shots are somewhat grainy, but this could be the result of the source material.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Unlike the other titles in Warner's Martin Scorsese collection, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix would actually be a nice feature here to enhance the viewing experience and make Paul's hellish nightmare even more intense. Nonetheless, the mono track is a fitting tribute to this film's preservation and that is to be commended. Dialogue, music, and sound effects are well handled and crisp. The closing 20 minutes have an annoying hiss that comes in and out sporadically, but never enough to diminish the quality of the film. There also is a French mono track available.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
7 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Michael Ballhaus, Griffin Dunne, Amy Robinson, Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:59m:28s

Extras Review: The supplemental materials for After Hours follow the formula for the other titles in Warner's Scorsese collection. There is an audio commentary on select scenes by Scorsese, Dunne, cinematography Michael Ballhaus, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and producer Amy Robinson. A lot of Scorsese's comments relate to his having failed to get The Last Temptation of Christ made and needing to find a good, low-budget movie to help him re-ignite his love for filmmaking. Ballhaus is the standout in this commentary, giving a lot of information about how certain shots were done and the experience of working with Scorsese for the first time. Robinson and Dunne also have some interesting remarks about their experiences, but Schoonmaker's input is minimal.

The documentary Filming for Your Life: Making After Hours (18m:52s) contains audio clips of Scorsese as well as interviews with Robinson, Dunne, and Schoonmaker. Some of what is said here is repeated from the commentary, but there is also a lot of new information and an interesting use of clips from the movie in connection with the production memos. Following that are seven deleted scenes (with a total running time of 08m:05s) that play consecutively. The scenes are a mixture of completely new material and extensions of scenes left in the movie, and are presented in nonanamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen with Dolby surround sound. Since some of these scenes have been mentioned elsewhere on the disc, it is nice to actually see what people are talking about. The final extra is the original trailer (02m:06s), shown in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, and it is quite funny in its own right.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Martin Scorsese's dark, brilliant comedy gets a fitting DVD release. The image transfer is a solid effort and the sound is adequate (though the final 20 minutes have a distracting hiss). The extras are a nice bonus treat and make this a highly recommended title.

 


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