The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
"After Hours" approaches the notion of pure filmmaking; it's a nearly flawless example of -- itself. It lacks, as nearly as I can determine, a lesson or message, and is content to show the hero facing a series of interlocking challenges to his safety and sanity. It is "The Perils of Pauline" told boldly and well.
Critics have called it "Kafkaesque" almost as a reflex, but that is a descriptive term, not an explanatory one. Is the film a cautionary tale about life in the city? To what purpose? New York may offer a variety of strange people awake after midnight, but they seldom find themselves intertwined in a bizarre series of coincidences, all focused on the same individual. You're not paranoid if people really are plotting against you, but strangers do not plot against you to make you paranoid. The film has been described as dream logic, but it might as well be called screwball logic; apart from the nightmarish and bizarre nature of his experiences, what happens to Paul Hackett is like what happens to Buster Keaton: just one damned thing after another.
The project was not personally developed by director Martin Scorsese, who was involved at the time in struggles over "The Last Temptation of Christ." Paramount's abrupt cancellation of that film four weeks before the start of production (the sets had been built, the costumes prepared) sent Scorsese into deep frustration. "My idea then was to pull back, and not to become hysterical and try to kill people," he told his friend Mary Pat Kelly. "So the trick then was to try to do something."
After rejecting piles of scripts, he received one from producers Amy Robinson and Griffin Dunne, who thought it could be made for $4 million. It had been written by Joseph Minion, then a graduate student at Columbia, and Scorsese was later to recall that Minion's teacher, the Yugoslavian director Dusan Makavejev, gave it an "A." He decided to make it: "I thought it would be interesting to see if I could go back and do something in a very fast way. All style. An exercise completely in style. And to show they hadn't killed my spirit."