After Hours

After Hours (1985)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Griffin Dunne, Teri Garr
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer

In their line of Martin Scorsese releases, Warner Home Video is also bringing us "After Hours, " a film that is in a sense atypical for the director, as it is an absolutely hilarious dark comedy. At the same time is carrier Scorsese’s signature all over and is once again an ode to New York and its people.

Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) is a single, bored word processor in New York when he meets a girl at a diner. They talk and she leaves her phone number. When he gets home, he calls the girl, they decide to meet at her place and Paul heads to Soho for a late-night date. Little does he know what expects him that night. It is as if the whole world is trying to get at him that night. People behave erratically, the hand of fate seems to slap him in the face constantly, and with every step he takes, Paul is becoming more and more tangled in a web of psychotic characters and out-of-control events.

After hours is deviously funny. Paul Hackett is the epitome of a guy out of luck as he stumbles from one disaster into the next – mostly without his own wrongdoing. Just when you think he’s hit the bottom of the barrel, another plot twist comes around making sure Paul is once again on the run, trying to shake off some whatever it is that is trying to get the better of him this time. And every time the setting is getting more freakish than the last time, making for incredible and memorable moments time and time again.

The film boasts an incredible cast, including Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Linda Fiorentino, Teri Garr, Verna Bloom, Catherine O’Hara, as well as Cheech Marin and Thommy Chong, and they all make sure to make the best out of their quirky characters. Paranoia, psychosis, sociopathia and plain old stupidity rule that night in Soho waiting for Paul around every corner.
An equally important part of this film play Michael Ballhaus’ wonderful cinematography and Scorsese’s eloquent way of capturing New York at its grittiest and funniest.

Warner Home Video is presenting "After Hours" in an <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> transfer that is absolutely clean and without blemishes. Also without grain, the picture is very stable at all times and offers an incredibly high level of detail, which helps tremendously to bring out all the details in the nighttime settings that make up virtually the entire movie. Dark, brooding alleyways contrasted with glaring neon lights, murky apartment shots as well as brightly lit interiors, whatever the challenge, the transfer masters them equally level-handed. Blacks are absolutely deep and solid, firmly rooting the picture but never losing detail. No edge-enhancement is evident in the transfer and the compression has been handled well to make sure all picture information remains fully intact.

The original mono audio track of the film is included on the DVD only. There’s no 5.1 remix or anything, but given the way the movie has been designed, both visually and sonically, the mono track works actually to its advantage, increasing the feeling of claustrophobia, the sense that there’s just no way out for Paul, as he gets increasingly frantic. It’s as if we are inside his head and things keep pouring down as a steady cacophony. Marvelously well done.

A <$commentary,commentary track> featuring Griffin Dunne, director Martin Scorsese, producer Amy Robinson, Michael Ballhaus and editor Thelma Schoonmaker is also included on the release. It is not a live commentary but has been edited together from various interviews, it seems, so that the references to the actual images we see, seem a bit off at times. Still, overall it is a track full of valuable information and insights.

Also included is "Filming For Your Life: Making After Hours," a featurette about how the film came together and how the project saved and fueled Martin Scorsese’s career in many ways. It is an exceedingly interesting piece but it is really a drag that Scorsese himself did not participate in it and can only be heard for a few seconds in voice-overs taken from other interviews.
A selection of deleted scenes can also be found on the release – some great and some not-so-great stuff here, mostly adding a bit more depth to the characters, but ultimately not necessarily helping the film as a whole.

The DVD is rounded out by the movie’s trailer.

"After Hours" is hilarious and one of the funniest films I have seen in quite a while. This is not your gross-out humor of today’s Hollywood or the brainless antics targeted at today’s teenagers. "After Hours" has much more expressiveness and intellect than that. It does not only mock situations, but explores how they come about with characters that may be strange and weird, but never flat or outright idiotic. They are all people like each and everyone of us – maybe with a bit more psychosis, but hey, that’s the name of the game… All I can say is that I had a blast with this film and you will do. This DVD is a no-brainer must buy!