This is one of Martin Scorsese's underrated and underappreciated movies, about Paul, a quiet computer programmer who goes out on a date with a girl he meets in a coffee shop, only for the date to turn into an endless night of lunacy. As he is forced to wander the streets, Paul witnesses the different lives of the residents of New York - a bizarre artist, a neuroic Monkees fan, a couple of thieves, and an irritating ice cream-van owner being a handful of the characters. He is an outsider peering in, much like when he sees a couple making love through a window, and witnesses a murder through another. Paul becomes strangled by the city - everywhere he turns he runs into trouble.
The script is piled up with quirky confrontations, conversations, and bizarre events. The script works well, with all the events interconnecting perfectly. It is also very witty, with numerous lines of dialogue resulting in a smirk, or laughter. Martin Scorsese's direction is brilliant - he sets up the suffocating tension, the comedy, and craziness with perfect stride. This is one of his - or perhaps his - most surreal movies; the first thirty minutes leaving the viewer unsure, yet in perfectly good hands. We're watching a man trapped, a man stuck in a city with a pulse - much like Travis Bickle in 'Taxi Driver'. With it's lesser known status, this will prove to be more of a gem than a classic - as it's a pleasently surprising movie, compelling and highly watchable.