Tuesday, December 8, 2009

After Hours

Going by the poster for After Hours you might expect it to be the 80s-est movie in the world. I'm not going to completely dissuade that notion, since it does suffer from typical 80s problems, that being standard awful 80s film stock.

The movie itself is quite odd. Paul, played by Griffin Dunne, is a data processor who meets a sexy young lady named Marcy, as played by Rosanna Arquette. Things go quite badly in numerous ways which get progressively stranger as the film goes on. As saying basically anything will ruin the surreal surprise.

The thing with After Hours is I can't quite make heads or tails of it. It's good, I can tell it's good, and I enjoyed watching it. I'm simply not sure why I liked it, or what it is about it that makes me so interested in the events as they happen. It's amusing and absurd, a feverish adventure through an insane world, and yet I have no idea why exactly I like it.

I suppose being a Martin Scorsese picture helps. Even in the 80s, Scorsese was a great director. Few people can manage to get such memorable images from awful 80s film stock, and he keeps the film moving at a quick, fun pace. It feels fresh, interesting and unique. The most important thing about a film like this is to keep the energy up, and it never really flags.

I'll also say that even if it uses my pet peeve film stock, it's often a striking looking film. Some of the shots are downright beautiful, giving a real environment a subtly surreal quality. This was managed on the horrible film stock that was in vogue in the 80s! I mean, that's a near impossibility, but here it is, an interesting looking and genuinely cool movie filmed in the 80s, with an awful neon logo.

I liked that it made fun of pretentious artists too, as we go around Soho visiting performing art shows and sculptors making paper mache men in agonizing poses. There's something wrong with the characters in the movie, and it's all possible because they're artists. Artists are generally weird and full of crap - I talk to artists on a regular basis, I know this - it's one of the most realistic aspects of the experience.

Beyond that? I just know I enjoyed watching it, I cared what happened - even after the main character was something of a jerk - and as it got more absurd I got more intrigued. That's great, if I'm just watching it for myself, but since I've got this little project going it seems somewhat inadequate.

It's a big struggle to do an entry on this film because I'm just ever so slightly confused by it. It's good, I know it's good, and I enjoyed it immensely, but I really can't figure out why. Maybe that's for the best, and maybe there's nothing wrong with that little hint of uncertainty. I know I like it, what else do I need to know?

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