After Hours

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AFTER HOURS  lets those paralyzed by the mating game know that they’re not alone. It also tells you to you can’t win, which is fairly brave for a comedy, and it was even more bracing in 1985 when Martin Scorsese fiendishly dropped its hammer on us.  It’s also… funny as hell.  At least its fans think so: this is one of those uncomfortable black comedies that divide audiences. They love it or they’re turned off—Raising Arizona, Brazil, The War Of The Roses, God Bless America…..

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‘Marty’s’ salvo, written by Joseph Minion, inspired by a monologue from radio performer Joe Frank (what urban love-hell they must have gone through–yeek), got great reviews but not such a big public response—it’s now a cult classic.  ‘Paul’ (Griffin Dunne) meets ‘Marcy’ (Rosanna Arquette) at a dinner, gets her number, decides ‘what-the-hell?’–goes to meet her later that night. The New York City Survival Course he endures makes Charles Bronson’s Death Wish  look like a skip through Bora Bora.

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Paul and Marcy relating

Marcy’s a little weird (Arquette is perfect), but then there’s her somewhat frank room-mate, ‘Kiki’ (Linda Fiorentino) and Kiki’s leather-dude, ‘Horst’ (Will Patton), Marcy’s temper-challenged boyfriend ‘Tom’ (John Heard), spacey waitress ‘Julie’ (Teri Garr), Mr.Softee driver ‘Gail’ (Catherine O’Hara)–and assorted denizens of Soho, the subway and the social-sexual subterranea grotesqua  lurking beneath the sunny smiles of ReaganWorld.

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maxresdefault (4)All of the performers hit homers, but Dunne really bats a thousand with his increasingly desperate, yet still hopeful hero. It’s a masterful job, one of the best comic performances of Joe Everyguy since the heyday of Jack Lemmon. He was overlooked for a deserved Oscar nomination.

Direction is razor-edge, the camera work from Michael Ballhouse is vivid, the 97 minutes fly. With Verna Bloom, Cheech & Chong (brief, wisely under control), Bronson Pinchot, Dick Miller and some great ‘types’ in bit parts.

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