Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) is a computer technician in a New York City office block, and his numbing job explaining computers to the other employees makes him crave a little excitement. When he gets home, there's nothing on T.V. he wants to watch, so in a mild act of desperation he heads out into a nearby diner and spends a little time reading his battered Henry Miller paperback. It is then he is interrupted by a woman, Marcy (Rosanna Arquette), who tells him that this is her favourite book he has his nose in, but Paul would have been better off ignoring her. However, she is attractive, and he gets her phone number...
After Hours was the little project that director Martin Scorsese fell back on when his last big project, The King of Comedy, was a major failure, but they have a similar sense of humour to them, that is they prompt you to wonder how much you should be laughing at what is essentially a nightmarish situation. The script was written by Joseph Minion, and was the result of his thesis at film school, fitting neatly into the urban nightmare genre that occasionally makes itself plain throughout the years, often centering around the Big Apple.
The laughs in the film come from an unusual source, in that while Paul is not a hugely likeable character, he does become someone we want to see survive his night, not because we recognise any traits of decency in his personality, but because we recognise we share his less admirable qualities. The main reason he gets into the mess he does, after all, is down to the fact that he plans on taking advantage of a vulnerable young woman, and when he returns home he makes a call to her artist flatmate, ostensibly because he wishes to purchase some paperweights she has made.
He doesn't really, but it's all the excuse he needs to head over there at half past eleven when Marcy invites him over to her Soho apartment. The frantic taxi ride to this destination, where Paul's twenty dollar bill goes flying out of the window, should offer you some idea of what is about to happen without spelling it out, so there are still surprises, and nasty ones at that. The taxi driver zooms off in disgust at not getting his fare, but the optimism that will soon be drained out of Paul is still there when he makes his way up to see Marcy. Little by little the machinations which mark out his doom come together, and Minion's script is a marvel of appropriately clockwork-like precision.
In Buster Keaton's classic short Cops, he becomes an innocent man persecuted by an unreasoning and angry mob, and After Hours could easily be seen as the eighties version of that, with Paul's punishment for his lechery far outweighing the actual course of events that befall him in return. Everywhere there are those nightmarish touches: is the unstable Marcy in fact a victim of serious burns, making her attempted seduction of Paul not something he wishes to contemplate? Why did the subway fare have to go up tonight of all nights, now he cannot afford it? When he gives up his keys to a friendly bartender (John Heard) for a favour, he cannot possibly hope to get them back, can he? Everyone Paul encounters turns out to be absolutely raving mad, and that's the disturbing aspect, the feeling when you live in the city that you are the only sane one, and the others are drowning you in their paranoia. There's a lot to dislike about the shark's grin of After Hours, yet it's superbly executed all the same. Music by Howard Shore.
American writer and director who emerged as one of the brightest and most vital of the generation of filmmakers who came to prominence during the 1970s with his heartfelt, vivid and at times lurid works. After deciding against joining the priesthood, he turned to his other passion - movies - and started with short efforts at film school until Roger Corman hired him to direct Boxcar Bertha.
However, it was New York drama Mean Streets that really made Scorsese's name as a talent to watch, and his succeeding films, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (which won Ellen Burstyn an Oscar and is the only Scorsese movie to be made into a sitcom) and the cult classic Taxi Driver (starring Robert De Niro, forever associated with the director's work) only confirmed this.
In the nineties, Scorsese began with the searing gangster saga Goodfellas, and continued with the over-the-top remake of Cape Fear before a change of pace with quietly emotional period piece The Age of Innocence. Casino saw a return to gangsters, and Kundun was a visually ravishing story of the Dalai Lama. Bringing Out the Dead returned to New York for a medical tale of redemption, and Gangs of New York was a muddled historical epic.
Still the Best Director Oscar eluded him, but the 2000s gave what many saw as his best chance at winning. Slick Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator didn't make it, but remake of Infernal AffairsThe Departed finally won him the prize. Outlandish thriller Shutter Island then provided him with the biggest hit of his career after which he surprised everyone by making family film Hugo - another huge hit.
This was followed by an even bigger success with extreme broker takedown The Wolf of Wall Street, and a return to his religious origins with the austere, redemption through torture drama Silence. Despite being an advocate of the theatrical experience, he joined forces with Netflix for The Irishman, reuniting him with De Niro for one last gangster epic. He also directed Michael Jackson's Bad music video.