‘Writers Choice’ is a monthly segment. Each month a theme will be chosen and the contributors asked to choose a film to mini-review based around said theme. This month’s theme is ‘party’.
I’m gonna put it out there – in the film world, Baz Luhrmann is the undisputed party king. Strictly Ballroom! The Great Gatsby! The latter is even ABOUT parties, sort of! But to me, Baz Luhrmann’s party peaked in 1996 with the release of Romeo + Juliet. Romeo spends a lot of his time comparing Juliet to a saint, but surely Luhrmann is the real saint for turning a narrative fuelled by tragedy and death into something that feels like a mental teenage party. And I’m such a willing pilgrim.
The Capulet Ball is the one actual party in the film and Luhrmann went all out. I have seen this film so many times and Paul Rudd’s ecstatic face surrounded by falling confetti is seared into my mind probably forever. It’s the costume party to end all costume parties, Leo as a knight and Claire as an angel, in case all the religious references weren’t enough. Mercutio, in drag singing Young Hearts Run Free; I think the ‘young’ part is what turns Romeo + Juliet into something that feels slightly celebrational, at least at first – ‘the boys, the boys!’ on the soundtrack, followed by ‘ROMAAYOOO’. Youth is so integral that I’d even call Romeo + Juliet the best teen film of all time. Shakespeare elevates teenagers into literal sainthood and surrounds them with corruption and death. Luhrmann does this too but reminds us of the tenderness and excitement of being young. He gives as much time to the internal turmoil as the outside. He lets Romeo and Juliet breathe and transforms them into something more realistic and relatable. Plus he exercises something Shakespeare couldn’t – mad tracks from the 90s. And what is a party without music? –Ashley Woodvine
I’m not entirely sure what drinking culture is really like in America, I’ve only ever seen what it’s like in the movies, which is a bunch of high schoolers trying to pretend they’re twenty-one to score some beer. In Britain however, you only have to be eighteen to buy as much vodka as you want, which is why the first time I was a little bit drunk I was thirteen and by the time I was sixteen I was at parties most weekends with all my friends, being sick and getting interrupted by police. No parties I have ever been to however have been even close to the monstrosity seen in Project X (thankfully). This is what I hope real partying is like in America. It starts pretty simple, a couple of dorky guys wanting to become popular so they throw a party for their friend Thomas, in his house, but advertise it on local radio and on craigslist so that people actually show up. The trouble then is… people do show up. Lots of people. They find lots of ecstasy in a gnome that someone stole from a drug dealer, after noise complaints police turn up, it gets televised on local news and Martin Klebba gets put in the oven, so drives Thomas’s dad’s Mercedes into the swimming pool. By the end of it all, hearts have been broken, people are minced and going crazy, the house is trashed, the party is in the streets, the owner of the gnome shows up with a flamethrower and things start exploding. Second best part of it all is, Thomas’ folks aren’t even that mad, their just surprised people actually went to his party. They do use his college tuition money to pay for the damages though. The actual best part of it all is, its partly inspired by true events. Watch this video. –Mel Sutherland
When I think of party what instantly comes to mind is the college frat movie. Riddled with stereotypes, sexism and dude-bro in-jokes, you would think there would be nothing I detest more. You are wrong. The college frat movie is a rite of passage and despite them being the same film over and over again I revel in watching keg stands, failed attempts at pulling, vomit and stealing traffic cones.
Bad Neighbours is one of the latest offerings in the beloved genre, and one that has a lot more to offer than just booze and sex. Zac Efron heads Delta Psi Beta, a fraternity who move in next to new family on the block, The Radners (the completely loveable Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne). Kelly and Mac just want the suburban dream, a nice lil family home in which to raise their daughter and a quiet neighbourhood. The introduction of a frat house however puts all these plans to pot. Wild parties and mayhem cause distress to the new family. Mac and Kelly however, are determined to come across as cool parents, simply telling the fraternity to ‘keep it down’. As Delta Psi ignores them and continues it’s plans to become legends, The Radners and Delta Psi become engaged in a sneaky battle to outwit each other with pranks and tricks to get the frat kicked out the house.
This all accumulates in a wicked UV Hotbox party where everything turns blue, Weed is burned in fire-pits in the house and face-paint is the dress-code ultimately resulting in a dance off between Teddy and Mac.
Rogen and Efrons banter during the film is insane, they play off each other incredibly during each party scene as Mac and Kelly’s desperate attempts to cling onto youth play out. Kelly is necking shots and making out with girls and Mac’s mouth full of shrooms are side-splittingly funny and I hope I’m that cool in my 30s.
I love, love, love Baz Lurhman’s musical Moulin Rouge! I haven’t thought about this movie in awhile, I was obsessed with it when I was 14. The film takes place in 1900, largely at the famous Paris nightclub, the Moulin Rouge. The Moulin Rouge nightclub was the birthplace of the can-can dance. There were courtesans, cabarets, lots of champagne; it was basically the best party place of the time. Baz Luhrmann had the task of making the 1900-era Moulin Rouge’s version of a party translate to something fun for modern audiences, a party that we would want to be at as well. Can-can music of the time was pretty boring, at least to us. So to convey how exhilarating it was to party there, Baz Lurhmann uses modern music. The host Harold Zidler leads the can-can girls, drenched in colorful costumes, and the huge crowds of men and women, to a dance and song medley with ‘Lady Marmalade’, a Can-Can rap song, and Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. (HERE WE ARE NOW, ENTERTAIN US! Who can’t help but sing along to that?!) Baz Lurhmann uses frantic camera angles and shots sped up as fast as they can to show the hyper-activity of the party’s excitement. Each shot is filled with the brightest colors. This all combines to show the sheer overwhelming thrill Christian feels being there. This was how the Moulin Rouge felt to the people in the late 1800s, decadent, sexy, and exciting, the ultimate party. –Caroline Madden
As far as word association goes, when someone says party one would not automatically think of the late 18th century. However, after seeing the life of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France’s life through the eyes of Sofia Coppola, I wish every night out I had was like Marie’s. Sneaking out to masked balls where Siouxsie and The Banshees play all night? Birthday poker parties? Endless champagne and cake? (I’m 80% sure I saw one of Marie’s friends takes a bump of something at a party about an hour in?) Drunkenly watching the sunrise with all you pals, while new order plays atmospherically in the back-ground? A grumpy Tom Hardy present at your dinner parties? Marie, wonderfully played by Kristen Dunst, is so playful and fun – despite how immature she is I would love to be friends with her. She seems like the kind of friend who will whisk you off to a glamourous party on a yacht at the last minute. Everything with Marie is about being silly, eating cake, and having fun, which although probably aren’t the best habits for a Queen, are so nice to see in a historical drama. Its directed by Sofia Coppola so it goes without saying that the film is gorgeous to look at, it won the Oscar for costume design in 2006/ Marie Antoinette’s life is presented as a party in this film – why shouldn’t it be when you’re so filthy rich and powerful?
Interstella 5555 is a seriously underrated film. I try to avoid using that phrase as much as possible, as it only seems to be associated with independent films. To me, though, it doesn’t matter. There are many high budget mainstream movies that deserve more credit than they have received, whether from an audience or critical perspective. And that will always be the case with anything that is released – some will like it more than others; things will go over looked. But if there is any film that I have heard only one person ever talk about (and that was someone who recommended it to me) that rightly warrants a lot more love, it is Interstella 5555.
First off, it is a crazy ambitious project. It serves as two things in one – a selection of music videos, and also a film. Call it a musical film/visual realisation/whatever (as says Wikipedia). There’s no dialogue either, just music. And that music is from Daft Punk, and it is their album, Discovery, in full. Yes, an hour + of one of, if not, Daft Punk’s best albums. How can you go wrong?
You just can’t.
Because of the upbeat music and dance-like anthems, the film comes across as if it is one big party. Much like certain tracks Daft Punk have made, though – and on the album that is featured in Interstella 5555 – it is rather sad. And that’s the reason why I picked it for this month’s Screen Queens theme. It’s something that, going into, you’ll expect a completely different outcome – that of a banging party. But it’s a lot deeper than that.
I’m not the kind of person to usually go full-on with reviews and talk about every element of it to a t. I know in previous SQ mini reviews I have mentioned that I don’t really want to spoil certain films (like INLAND EMPIRE), which are best to go into blind. It’s one of those jobbies again. Having very little idea of the story to Interstella 5555 is how I viewed it and I appreciated it more than I would’ve thought. And now, hopefully, you’ll be super inspired to check it out because I’ve tried to make this as vague as possible.
Also, aliens. Anything with aliens is cool, and I won’t say anything more than that. –Cherokee Seebalack
Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby is nothing short of a party. With an orchestra in the middle of the swimming pool, golden flappers, colorful confetti falling down like rain, and a mass of sparkles and feathers dancing to Jay-Z; the film is a new, vivid dreamscape of the twenties. The film is narrated by Nick Carraway, a Midwestern war veteran who finds himself drawn to his mysterious, millionaire neighbor, Jay Gatsby, who throws extravagant parties every week.
There are two big party scenes in the film- one of the epic parties at Gatsby’s and a smaller, more intimate party at Tom and Myrtle, Nick’s cousin-in-law and his mistress’s, apartment. Although the party at Gatsby’s is about the most magical thing I have ever witnessed and explains why I see so many girls wearing “I PARTIED WITH GATSBY” sweatshirts (because who wouldn’t want to party with Gatsby?), I personally enjoyed the little party set at Tom and Myrtle’s cozy and colorful apartment the best. Girls in their pretty, satin lingerie and perfectly curled hair, popping champagne bottles and pillow fights, it’s no wonder so many teenagers want to live the careless yet enchanting life of 1920’s New York. –Rena Johnson