After Hours (1985)

I watched this last night on a recommendation from a screenwriting teacher. It’s an insane film. And very funny. Probably my favorite Scorsese film now, which I know, sacrilege or something. Goodfellas never did it for me though.

It’s really funny. Deadpan jokes and strange circumstances everywhere. As a whole it seems completely implausible but the individual events are believable, if that makes sense.

“You have a great body.”

“Yes. Not at lot of scars.”

A woman falling asleep during a seductive massage. And good physical stuff, like Griffin Dunne being wrapped in papier-mache and then stolen by thieves (Cheech and Chong!) because they think it’s valuable art. Hysterical women trying to sleep with him then forming an angry mob when he refuses. So many weird things going on and then interlinking later.

I wish they made more comedies like this, but it didn’t do very well at the box office, which doesn’t really surprise me. It’s dark, deadpan, absurd, and compelling. There are genuine laugh out loud moments.

And a scene with a bouncer outside a club that was pulled from Kafka’s The Trial, which is a scene in the book that was life-altering when I read it at 16.

At the beginning you think “what a bleak future at that boring job he has” and by the end you’re desperate to get back to that job where the world is boring but comfortingly stable.

It’s grounded in the sense that he doesn’t call out the insanity of it. He deals with it in a grounded, logical way. But no matter what he does, the labyrinth goes deeper. So you go crazy with him, which is a fun ride.

All that and no men had to cry or shit explosively to make it funny. Imagine that.

Also, it turns out that the first 30 minutes or so were ripped from an episode of Joe Frank’s Radio Playhouse.

I’m writing something similar in tone to this, but not as dark. After Hours is a very dark film. But hilarious.