Life can be prosaic -especially this part of the world. We may yearn for adventurous rides. But, are we ready for it? Griffin Dunne, dresses the role of Paul Hackett for a dense with paranoia and angst, and Kafka, and Theatre of the Absurd and much more, Scorsese black comedy After Hours (1985); Paul Hackett is a word processor who wants to jump out of his comfort zone; he thinks he's ready for it. He's totally up for a little sexy adventure, to spice up his plain dull life. When he meets the siren Rosannna Arquette, he decides to follow her in the rabbit hole. She will take him on a journey in an unknown urban maze, filled with artists, weirdos, solitaires, all of them somehow dodgy. Paul hasn't got the nerve it takes, he asks the desperate "What do you want from me?" early on. To her, to his puppeteer, to the universe, to whoever is willing to answer.
The most unexpected trivia for this film is that...it was originally going to be directed by Tim Burton! I wouldn't say no, if he expressed interest in doing a remake. A lot has been written on an alleged plagiarism case that never made it to the court, but ended up with a settlement before the press start fiddling over it, but, the screenwriter Joseph Minion was only 26 at the time the film was produced; I hope he learnt his lesson after that.
This is the first fiction film that Scorsese directed in a decade without De Niro as his lead, so, whoever is not a big fan of the guy, should definitely go and check this. Rosanna Arquette and Linda Fiorentino in her most revealing outfits is a good reason alone, but the feeling that this ominous cinematic tale doesn't make any sense is the main reason I would propose it to someone. If you are the smart viewer who is always one step ahead, and is sick and tired of predictable screenplays, here you are, dude. There's no way you can predict this one.
This "n'importe quoi" quality made people write about the film that it's "it's the closest Scorsese will ever come to making a stoner comedy" and they are probably right (stoner comedy being a film portraying the use of marijuana and wild, irrationaly funny situations -we can very well assume that Paul lives in a Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas kind of ambience here, even without being stoned) The film was equally described as a "borderline horror film", but I wouldn't agree so much there, as I had the best laugh for some time while watching it.
But, is that all there is? When Peggy Lee sang this song, I wonder if she could imagine it would star in such a brilliant, yet nonsensical scene -because the song is the star in this scene, no question about it. The soundtrack, as it is often the case with Scorsese, deserves its own mention. Songs blend with scenes so well, they sometimes seem they were written for them; it's a bit improbable that Mozart and Bach had this film in mind when they were composing, though. Then comes a bit of flamenco, then The Monkeys, then Angel Baby and so on. There's more to discover, if you feel that retro music hasn't lost its allure.
For those in Luxembourg now, you will have the great opportunity to watch After Hours on the big screen, as a part of the Scorsese Retrospective.
AGENDA: After Hours: 7/2/12 and 23/2/12, Cinematheque de la Ville de Luxembourg, 17 Place du Théâtre, L-2613 Luxembourg