Sally Potter’s brilliantly funny new film The Party arrives in cinemas on Friday 13 October. Ahead of its release Picturehouse staff members look back at some of the best dinner parties to feature in films.
From acclaimed British filmmaker Sally Potter and featuring a star studded cast that includes Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer, Cillian Murphy, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Timothy Spall, this witty, sharp and very funny new comedy will be an unmissable date for everyone’s diary.
Martin Scorsese, 1990
“I’ll pick up a shovel at my mothers house.”
This middle of the night dinner scene at Tommy’s mothers house epitomises the duality of the domestic and horrific that makes Goodfellas such a compelling and enduring film. En-route to bury the body of mobster Bill Bates, Henry, Jimmy and Tommy stop off to collect a shovel at Tommy’s mothers house (marvellously played by Scorsese’s own mother Catherine). As any good Italian mother would, she insists they stay for dinner. They share anecdotes, tell jokes and the mother reveals her painting (which conveniently is sitting right next to the dinner table). Following Jimmy’s astute observation of whom the man in the painting reminds him of, there is a morbid final moment as they all share the joke as the camera pans to the parked car in the driveway and a thumping sound coming from the trunk. Familiar domesticity to horrific violence in one single panning shot.
Toby King, Picturehouse Entertainment
Tim Burton, 1988
Michael Keaton’s best role (and yes, that even includes the caped crusade,) sees him virtually unrecognisable. Playing a moulding poltergeist turned human exorcist, the titular character attempts to cause havoc to the afterlife of a recently deceased couple after they fail to rid their home of the living family that have moved in. In a superb chaotic scene that will make you weary of your shrimp tails, Adam and Barbara attempt to prove they can freak the family by invading their dinner party. Possessing the pretentious New York guest and making them dance to Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song, the haunting has an adverse and perverse affect as the delighted family bemuse on the spooky happenings in their home. And that’s after their food decided to fight back…
Sarah Cook, Marketing Manager – Ritzy, Brixton
Luis Buñuel 1962
Parties… all human experience and frailty can be revealed at parties. If they go well, they can be wonderful and uplifting, but as Luis Buñuel surreally explores in The Exterminating Angel, they can bring people together, expose divisions, and force them apart. They can… make people feel trapped in their existence… and Sally Potter is playing with same emotional stresses in her new film.
Dave Taylor, Marketing Manager, City Screen
Tobe Hooper, 1974
When Grandpa Sawyer starts sucking on Marilyn Burn’s fingers I fully freaked out. Easily the most disturbing part of the film.
Mark Bartlett, Duty Manager – Picturehouse Central
Luis Buñuel 1974
The dinner/loo scene is not my favourite dinner scene on film, but it’s the one that took me by surprise most, never expected such a thing, and that image really stuck as years went by.
People gathering for a civilized dinner, sitting on loos, instead of chairs, discussing excrement in detail, yet embarrassed when talking about food, then excusing themselves to go to the dining room, and enjoying eating in private, seems a most ingenious way to viscerally expose form void of content… And just how much society clings to what frames it.
A ritual connected to a celebrated part of our nature, and therefore public, superimposed on a ritual connected to a shamed part of our nature, therefore private, really puts emphasis on the mechanical aspect of ritual itself. Without the glamour of myth & sentiment that’s usually attached to rituals on film, the emptiness of movement & dialogue is overwhelming.
Milana Vujkov, Marketing Manager – Picturehouse Central