Day 12 – After Hours (1985)

I really wanted to watch Goodfellas for 3,975,230th time today, but the whole point of this is to stop watching the same things repeatedly and broaden my horizons a little bit. For instance, I have this Martin Scorsese box set (I don’t remember where or when I got it) with five of his best-known earlier films, and I’ve only seen one of them (Goodfellas). Well, I guess that’s not entirely true, because about 20 minutes into this movie, I realized I may have seen parts of it on TV or something before. Anyway, I decided to go with another Scorsese movie to hopefully satisfy that Goodfellas craving.

After Hours takes us on a one-night journey with working stiff, Paul (played by Griffin Dunne), who is just trying to get home after a date goes bad. He only gets deeper and deeper into trouble as the night goes on, eventually being the target of an angry mob who thinks he’s a burglar. Along the way, we meet a lot of weird characters including his date (Rosanna Arquette), who after approaching him while he reads Tropic of Cancer, invites him over only to tell him weird stories about her love life. We also meet the date’s artist roommate (Linda Fiorentino) who makes plaster paperweights that look like bagels; a needy cocktail waitress (Teri Garr) obsessed with the fashion and music of the 50s and 60s; two thieves (Cheech & Chong) whose art they actually paid for gets taken from them; and a vigilante (Catherine O’Hara) who owns her own ice cream truck. John Heard, Dick Miller, and even Martin Scorsese in a quick cameo add to an already fantastic cast. By the end of the film, Paul is plastered up into a sculpture and dropped off the back of a van in front of his workplace where the movie began. He dusts off what he can and proceeds to head back in for another day at the office despite having a pretty wild night.

If you ask me, Paul brings his adversity onto himself. In every encounter he is only interested in what people can do for him. For example, at one point Paul bumps into John Heard’s character at a diner who was just at the morgue identifying his dead girlfriend, and Paul is only interested in getting his apartment keys as soon as possible. Understandably, no one in the movie takes too kindly to his attitude, and everyone quickly loses interest in helping him. We are more inclined to feel sympathetic toward everyone else, but that may be the point. This film shows appreciation for everyday people and reminds us we are all as complex as these characters. It invites us to use our imagination with the people we meet everyday, or better yet maybe even get to know them. You may be surprised by what you find. Another lesson could be for men not to read Tropic of Cancer in public.

After Hours has earned a top spot in my list of Martin Scorsese favorites. I’d say it’s number one, but there’s no topping Goodfellas. Even though there are very few similarities between the two, this movie had me so enthralled I didn’t care about watching Goodfellas anymore.

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