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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

After Hours

Director Martin Scorsese is without a doubt one of the all-time great American directors, not to mention film's biggest champion through work he’s done with his group The Film Foundation, which has saved and rescued many movies from the dustbin of history. Of all the films Scorsese has directed, 1985’s dark comedy “After Hours” is something of a cult classic. After years of rumors, the movie has finally been added to The Criterion Edition in a wonderful, director-approved, 4K and standard HD blu-ray edition.

“After Hours” centers around office worker Paul Hackett, played by Griffin Dunne, who heads to downtown New York City to meet up with a woman for a romantic rendezvous. What follows poor Paul is a series of increasing mishaps and anxiety-inducing problems that feel like the makings of a nightmare. Our lowly word processor just wanted some romance in his life, but before dawn comes he’ll be accused of being a burglar and hunted down by Catherine O’Hara driving an ice cream truck.

It was funny to me that as I watched these awful things happen to our hero, I found myself worked up to a fit of near anxiety myself. I found it all funny, but I also just couldn’t help but think “Oh, you poor man” as I felt my own self squirm at all the ways Paul’s mistaken identity by others is causing his night of torment. Scorsese isn’t known for being a comedy director, but this movie shows he knows how to get comedic moments on film.

It’s easy to see why “After Hours” has a following. It has this great 1980s new-wave/punk energy to it with a wonderful score. Plus, the film has a fantastic supporting cast that also includes, Rosanna Arquette, Terri Garr, John Heard, and Cheech and Chong. You should have heard me watching the film when their names appeared during the opening credits. I really like that as I sat the morning after I watched the movie thinking about it, I found I liked it even more than my already positive initial reaction to it when the credits rolled.

Criterion brings “After Hours” to blu-ray for the first time in both a regular blu-ray edition and as a 4K Ultra High-Def edition with Dolby Vision high dynamic range. The 4K is a combo pack with both discs, as most of the extras are on the regular blu-ray. The brand new 4K restoration was made from a scan of the 35mm original camera negative, while Scorsese’s own personal 35mm print of the film was used as a reference for the coloring. The final results were supervised and approved by long-time Scorsese editor, Thelma Schoonmaker.

The film looks absolutely fantastic, with dark, inky black images and the bright Neo signs of the street coming through with rich color. It’s really downright amazing how good these Dolby Vision 4K discs can look, with a layer of fine film grain, they truly remind you of being very close to watching a pristine 35mm print in your own home. The original mono soundtrack is presented in a lossless format, taken from the original magnetic masters it sounds clear, shop, and well-defined.

Very good bonus features from the old Warner Brothers DVD of the film are carried over here, including a documentary on the film plus a commentary by Scorsese, Schoonmaker, the director of photography, Michael Ballhaus, plus actor Duane and procure Amy Robinson. New features include a wonderful chat between Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz, and a feature on the look of the film with the costume designer and production designer. Deleted scenes and a trailer round out the extras.

Look, you know it’s gonna be a good release if it comes from Criterion, and this time they’ve easily delivered the defining home video edition of one of the true gems of the Scorsese catalog. This new 4K disc is well worth adding to your collection, but don’t try to pick up a bagel and cream cheese paperweight at the same time. See you next week.


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