party scenes

To help celebrate our 10th anniversary, our contributors share with us their favourite party scenes of all time.

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Dazed and confused

- By Sam Mooney

“All right, all right, all right.” The year is 1976, and the party of the year is about to go down at Kevin Pickford’s house while his parents are set to be out of town. Slight problem. The truck load of beer kegs he has ordered causes suspicion, so his parents have decided to stay home. What are these reefer smoking, acid taking, Texas seniors meant to do to celebrate the end of the school year now? Well, David Wooderson, that stereotypical ‘big guy in a small town’ archetype who is yet to fully embrace adulthood, orchestrates a pot-party to end all pot-parties. This party scene in Dazed and Confused plays out the trials and tedium of those final days of adolescence. Though high and intoxicated, the group discuss life choices, their futures and the meaning of existence all to one hell of a 70s soundtrack. The prospect of getting high, laid and wasted brings these people together, but it is their conversations between the overconsumption of drugs which will keep them together from here on, because at the end of the day; “you just gotta keep livin’ man. L.I.V.I.N.”

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midnight cowboy

- By Cáit Murphy

‘Join us at the gates of hell’, entices a yellow flyer; ‘Flesh, blood and smoke will be served after midnight.’ Joe Buck (John Voight), a wide-eyed Texas bumpkin is enamoured, but his companion, ailing city-slicker, ‘Ratso’ (Dustin Hoffman), is sceptical.

The crowded loft party is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s Factory. It is eclectic and excessive, something Joe, a struggling male hustler, has never experienced. The scene, expressed in an avant-garde mode, reflects Joe’s hallucination, a kaleidoscope of Factory faces, synthetic textures and marijuana haze. Director, John Schlesinger, emerging from a background in British ‘kitchen-sink’ realism, juxtaposes the hedonism of New York’s artistic elite with the bleakness of Joe and Ratso’s tenement squat. ‘Old Man Willow’ by The Velvet Underground’s peers, Elephant’s Memory, sets a melancholy tone.

Schlesinger invites us for a glimpse of an era which was sexually and culturally free, but perhaps vacuous too. Often, the glamorisation of Factory superstars and its pop-art did not reflect the reality of New York’s homeless. The Factory’s golden years would inevitably end, prompted partly by an assassination attempt on Warhol during Midnight Cowboy’s production (ruling out his appearance in the film). Cultural momentum of the sixties dissipated into the seventy’s anti-climax. Midnight Cowboy is an important film, not only in Queer and counter-culture cinema, but also for having captured a fleeting scene in history.

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ten things i hate about you

- By Grace Kenny

The party scenes of 10 Things I Hate About You feature some of the film’s most memorable moments. Kat Stratford’s (Julia Styles) succumbing to her peers’ expectations: ‘How did you do it?’ ‘Do what?’ ‘Act like a normal human!’ (this being a blatant reference to the film’s inspiration, Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew). Patrick Verona’s (Heath Ledger) words of wisdom to the heartbroken Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). The party is the archetype of American high school party scenes from coming-of-age films. From the moment the so-called-nerds’ get-together is interrupted by the high school body, the film does not miss a beat. We encounter the drunks, people making out, the kid vomiting in a crystal bowl, the guy you spend all night avoiding and so many more colourful characters, including the ridiculously entertaining Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan).

Joey Donner is hilarious in these scenes, occupied by his narcissism and modelling dreams, however, it is drunk Kat who steals the party. Kat’s dancing takes the film to another level of amazing and I’d be lying if I claimed to have never tried to recreate her attempted moves while in a similar scenario. Last but not least, a special mention also to the outfits, music selection, and the silent interaction of hurt facial expressions between Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik) and Cameron, all of which is impossible not to swoon over!

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Boogie nights

- By Amanda Harvey

Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997) is a kaleidoscope of many different parties, defining how people coming together can create chaos, success, and love. There are three party sequences in the film. The first takes place in a nightclub. Here, Jack Homer (Burt Reynolds) discovers the young 17-year-old Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg). Adams abandons his abusive home for the comfort of Homer’s ambition. This leads into the second party sequence where again the characters bond. Specifically, some of the best moments are when Adams first meets Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly), as they discuss which one’s strength is mightier, and the moment Scotty J. (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) the pudgy gay man, sees and falls for Adams. Then, Eddie Adams becomes Dirk Diggler. There is also this moment that Amber Waves (Julianne Moore), realizes her lustful emotions towards Adams. All these relationships are set up in order to fall apart in the final party sequence: the Christmas Party.

Changes occur rapidly in this scene. We have Adams given cocaine by his pseudo mother and co-worker, Amber, which will eventually lead to his downfall. There’s the ongoing bit of Little Bill’s (William H. Macy) wife not being able to understand his need for monogamy, as she sleeps with anything that moves; well anything besides him. However, Little Bill finally snaps at this specific party. He shoots three people, his wife, an unseen lover and himself.  But before this, there’s the moment where Scotty J. attempts to make out with Adams because he makes him feel special: the way he looks at him is more than just glances, when really, it’s just the other way around. Overall, Anderson’s style of using smooth camera tracking creates a voyeuristic rollercoaster of human’s manipulability and vulnerability. The camera tracking pulls the viewer into the world as naturally as if they were at the party. However, once everything goes sour the style changes into jumps and riffs as everyone seems to be getting high off coke instead of fluidly living their porn enthralled lives. Thus, though the party is temporary, but the impacts are permanent.