maura @ 4:43 pm
We have been trying to go to the movies more, and to pay attention to the movies more, especially revivals and thematic film series. After Jonathan Demme died a couple of years ago we completely missed the retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and I am still very grumpy about that. “Something Wild” and “Married to the Mob” played a huge role in our mental construction of an image of New York City before we moved here, and it’s been ages since we’ve seen them. (Plus the sountracks, swoon.)
Soon after that tragic miss I started paying closer attention to the film listings in the paper and elsewhere, so when BAM screened “After Hours” we *did* catch it (go us!). (That was also 2 years ago, though honestly time is so weird recently that I’d have said it was earlier this year, maybe as long ago as summer last year, though my calendar proves my brain wrong once again.)
“After Hours” is another foundational NYC movie for us, and it held up in lots of ways. The gorgeous empty streets of soho, the east village, and the lower east side late at night, so long ago that there were no fancy buildings anywhere, just the occasional dive bar or punk club. The always amazing Catherine O’Hara and her classic line “it’s not boring.” Remembering how different and sometimes difficult it was to go anywhere to meet anyone before we had pocket computers.
But there are other things that stand out glaringly as kind of awful, as is not uncommon with media from 30+ years ago. We left the movie feeling really bad about how Rosanna Arquette’s character is treated by Griffin Dunne’s character specifically and by the film generally. He picks her up at a diner and goes back to her place, then there are some references to her having been burned in the past which left scars, then he ghosts her when she’s in the bathroom. He comes back later to find that she’s killed herself and, while he does report it, he then goes on with the rest of his night (he’s been trying to get home and encountered innumerable weird obstacles). It’s lazy and misogynist and disappointing to rewatch, which is a bummer.
Redeeming Rosanna Arquette is not the only reason we were glad to see “Desperately Seeking Susan” at BAM last month (really for real last month!), but it was definitely a lovely aspect of the movie. (It was hard to pick just one movie in that series on women directors — part of me really wanted to see “Suburbia” and “Decline of Western Civilization” to really dig into the me-as-a-high-schooler mindset, but it’s hard to see movies on weeknights and to be out multiple nights in close succession.)
It was so so funny to see Madonna as Madonna, really, not acting at all — it was super early in her career, with only her first album out (though the internet tells us that she got super famous in the middle of filming the movie which made for an interesting challenge as shooting wrapped up). Lots of old NYC nostalgia here too — Love Saves the Day, the store where Madonna trades her jacket for the fancy boots — was still open when we moved here, though it’s long since closed now. And wow that Port Authority bathroom scene, I still can’t believe that the NYT article last month didn’t even mention it.
Not that there wasn’t any sexism, even with a woman director. When Rosanna Arquette is being chased by a mobster and ends up falling down on the street, the cops pick her up and of course assume she’s a prostitute. <insert eyerolling emoji here> But she gets to ditch her cheating narcissistic husband and change into excellent new clothes and leave the boring suburbs for the city, a much happier ending for sure.