Welcome back to another week BCB After Dark: the after-after party for night owls, early risers, new parents and Boys Fans abroad. It’s great to see you again. Hope you had a better weekend than the cubs. We’ll take your hat and coat. Bring your own drink. Please have a seat tonight.
BCB after dark is the place to go to talk about baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need as long as it conforms to the rules of the site. The night owls are encouraged to start the party, but everyone else is invited to join when you wake up the next morning and afternoon.
The cubs were gone today. The Iowa Cubs were gone today. The rest of the Cubs minor league teams have ended their season. So sit back and catch up on whatever you wanted to catch up on.
Last week I asked you how concerned you are that Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks might start on a scale of 1 to 5 “5.” That’s 40% in the two highest categories. On the other hand, 7% of you put your concerns on a “1” and 25% on a “2”. The last 27% came in the middle with a “3”.
Here’s the part where we talk about jazz and movies. You are free to jump to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.
Today’s jazz track comes from pianist Herbie Hancock. It’s a live recording of the theme song from his 1968 album from 1984. Speak like a child. The album itself was Hancock’s attempt to reduce his music into simpler forms that would allow more improvisation. He also wanted to instill a spirit of hope for a better future that resides in children’s voices.
There’s also a really cool part of that performance at the end of the video where Hancock opens his piano and plays the inside rather than the keys.
Inspired by a recent episode of the Emmy Award-winning TV show Ted Lasso that was a direct homage to it, I decided to watch director Martin Scorsese’s 1985 film again After business hours. I don’t think I had seen it on a VHS tape since the late eighties. The film is considered the only true comedy in Scorsese’s notable work, but it’s a dark comedy (metaphorical and literal) that relies more on the increasing absurdity of the situation than on setups and punch lines. Even the main character cannot believe the situation he is in. Overall, being an overlooked Scorsese gem, it’s well worth seeing.
It’s hard to imagine the legendary Martin Scorsese as a struggling director, but he was in the early eighties. The hits of Alice no longer lives here and taxi driver were offset by two cash flopsNew York, New York and The king of comedy, and a critical darling who did “meh” business at the box office, Wild bull. (Both flops also got mostly positive reviews, but that didn’t lead to much business.) Scorsese’s next film was to be his passion project (pun intended), The last temptation of Christ. But shortly before filming began, Paramount pulled the plug The last temptation, concerned about the cost and negative response from religious groups. (He would return to Last temptation later with a new cast at Universal in 1988.)
Angry and depressed about the cancellation of his dream project, Scorsese decided that he had to do something to distract himself from his problems. He decided to go back to his roots and make a small, independent film. In the end, he was offered a student script from Joseph Minion, who was on the Columbia University screenwriting program. Actors Griffin Dunne (who plays the lead) and Amy Robinson owned the rights and had conversations with a hot young director who was about to direct his first feature film, Tim Burton. Burton stepped aside when he heard that Scorsese was interested in the project. He went on to direct Pee-Wee’s great adventure instead of this. I think everything turned out fine for him.
Honestly, After business hours and Pee-Wee’s great adventure would be an interesting double function. Both are about men on a mission who encounter a collection of characters on their way. But during Pee wee is sunny and silly, After business hours is dark and disturbing.
The film is also a portrait of the seedy side of New York, which really identifies it as a Scorsese film. It is also a picture of New York changing. Griffin Dunne plays Paul Hackett, a yuppie IT specialist who meets Marcy, an attractive woman played by Rosanna Arquette, in a coffee shop after leaving work. Marcy is definitely a bit off-putting, but because she looks like a young Rosanna Arquette, Paul calls Marcy later that evening, under the pretext of getting a bagel-and-cream-cheese paperweight from her artist-roommate Kiki (Linda Fiorentino) to be interested.
This invitation takes Paul through a dark journey in SoHo before gentrification. (Slight spoilers for a 36 year old movie.) All of the money Phillip had on him flies out the window during a wild cab ride to SoHo. After his meeting with Marcy doesn’t go well, the rest of the film revolves around Paul trying to get home for the evening. Like Homer’s Odysseus, Paul gets into trouble along the way with a number of women (and a bartender) who initially offer to help but end up turning against him or making matters worse. Julie (Terri Garr) is a cocktail waitress who hates her job, Gail (Catherine O’Hara) drives an ice cream truck and offers to drive it home until she realizes Paul is suspected in a series of robberies. June (Vera Bloom) is an older artist who offers to protect her from the lynch mob for Paul, only to hide him by locking him in a plaster of paris and paper mache sculpture. Then she goes until the real burglars, played by Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, show up to steal him.
Scorsese and his staff discussed a lot about how the film should end. Acclaimed British director Michael Powell (of Black daffodil and other films), who was an advisor to the film and was about to marry Scorsese’s film editor, insisted that Paul couldn’t die at the end of the film as Scorsese had originally intended. Instead, he proposed a development that Scorsese eventually pursued: the statue in which Paul was trapped would fall from the stern of Cheechs and Chong’s van, break open, and allow Paul to escape. The sun has risen and Paul, covered in plaster of paris and paper mache, is slowly walking back to work to begin the next day. He never made it home. (Spoilers over)
I love the ending that they left with.
There is no particular point about it After business hours except for a man who is having a really terrible day. But there are a few things that stand out. One is the contrast between a yuppie East Side New Yorker and the grimmer, bohemian character of SoHo before it was gentrified in the years that followed. It’s a portrait of a city in transition and while the yuppies will win in the end, this time Scorsese lets the (un) ordinary people win. Although we have a lot of pity on Paul, who really had a terrible night behind him.
Also interesting is the way in which all the stories of the people Paul meets on his way flow together in the course of the film. Paul is constantly circling back to old situations – he can never escape this world into which he descended. Paul has become a rat in a cage, and the film even shows us a mouse trapped in a mousetrap to bring that point home.
Many critics have also seen Scorsese’s personal struggles reflected in Paul’s struggles. Like Paul, Scorsese had found many people in the film industry willing to help him, only to turn against him later. Some have seen some misogyny in this part of the film as well, as five of the six main characters he encounters along the way are women. There are also allusions to castration here and there.
The absurdity of the film was called “kafkaesque”, just as Paul is trapped in a world where the rules seem to offer no escape. Scorsese pointed out that this is a scene recreating Kafka’s famous “Before the Law” parable when Paul tries to enter a nightclub.
The cinematography of this film deserves special recognition. After business hours is an important work in the Scorsese canon because he worked for the first time with the cameraman Michael Ballhaus, who later took the camera for Scorsese in The Color of Money, Goodfellas, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Age of Innocence, Gangs of New York and The departed. The film was shot almost exclusively at night and on location. Ballhaus increases the tension of the film by letting the camera dwell ominously on things that are often irrelevant to the plot. But we don’t know that at the time. There’s also a tracking shot of a falling bunch of keys out of a window that wasn’t easy to pull out in the pre-digital days. the Ted Lasso Episode played a lot with falling keys in its Homage episode.
If you are a fan of Scorsese then this is it After business hours is definitely a must. If you are in the mood for a dark comedy with a lot of absurd situations that get crazier and crazier over time, then After business hours is probably your alley too. If you just want to see a yuppie being psychologically tortured in the mid-eighties, then After business hours is definitely for you.
Here is the film’s official trailer, which takes the scene where Paul explains what happened to him during the course of the film (and realizes that no one will ever believe him) and inserts scenes from earlier in the film to work out the description.
Welcome back to everyone who skips jazz and movies.
The season is almost over and I think any Cubs fan would say 2021 was a disappointment. Sure, there were some great moments (we’ll remember Javy forever ending up between home and home) and Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel were pleasant surprises that no one saw coming.
But is the coaching team to blame? I don’t think coach David Ross will be back next year and I can imagine most or all of the coaching staff will be back as well. But should it be? Is any of this your fault?
So tonight I ask you to rate the coaching staff, from manager David Ross to bullpen catcher Chad Noble. OK, you probably have no idea how well Noble did his job, but you probably have some thoughts on Ross, bank coach Andy Green, pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, and batting coach Anthony Iapoce. Probably basic trainers Willie Harris and Craig Driver too.
So what rating would you give the coaching staff together? If you think the Cubs’ collapse this season was their fault, you probably aren’t rating them very highly. But if you think none, if it’s their fault, and things would have been worse if they weren’t in charge, then you’re probably giving them the highest rating.
What is your rating for the 2021 Cubs coaching staff?
What is your rating for the current Cubs coaching team?
Thank you again for your visit. I’ll have the valet drop off your car. Please come back tomorrow when we have our short version of BCB after dark.