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The Party
Drama, Comedy
IMDB rating:
Sally Potter
Storyline: Janet hosts a party to celebrate her new promotion, but once the guests arrive it becomes clear that not everything is going to go down as smoothly as the red wine.
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HQ DVD-rip 720x302 px 1039 Mb mpeg4 2054 Kbps avi Download
The Party
The Party, a black comedy directed by Sally Potter was screened in competition at the Berlinale. Great acting by the all-star cast and Potter's smart and funny screenplay made the film one of the highlights of the Berlin film festival.

The picture was made on a lower budget and is set in one house with seven actors. At the press conference Potter described the film as an antidote to Hollywood big budget blockbusters.

Although The Party is set only in house, it does not feel too stagey because of Alexei Rodionov's creative cinematography; black and white and full of unusual angles. The director said about the style of her longtime cinematographer Rodionov, with whom she worked on the 1992 film Orlando that he works in the best Russian traditions.

The film starts with politician Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) inviting friends over for a dinner party to celebrate her promotion, hence the film's dual meaning, both the soiree and Janet's occupation. Her husband Bill (Timothy Spall) is visibly perturbed by something which is later revealed to be his terminal illness. Every character is highly eccentric in this very British comedy and Murphy's performance as Tom, the cocaine-snorting banker on the verge of a nervous breakdown is especially memorable.
I'll get my coat.
With a film which has a high rating as well as a few decent actors I was expecting something engaging. What I found however was that I could only stomach half an hour of this,I know it's a short film but that wasn't enough to keep me from removing myself from this party after 30 or so mins. This is one of the most pretentious movies I have ever sat down to watch. The problem I found was that there simply wasn't a single person in this movie you would want to be around for five mins never mind the full running time. What we have is a bunch of middle class selfish self centered stereotypes being passive aggressive towards each other and that's the big problem. It's just not believable that these people would spend time in each others company as there's no positive emotion flowing between any of them. The fact it's in black and white just adds to the pretension that this is somehow an intelligent film. There's no benefit to this being in black and white. I don't see this as a commentary on society or any social group, apart from the fact that people who claim to enjoy this movie will be as pretentious as the characters it's trying to mock. The movie lacks soul, doesn't engage and would likely only be enjoyed by those with sociopathic traits who enjoy watching people backbiting each other for their enjoyment.
It's a succinct and simple chamber piece that works when it works but feels a little flat and forgettable, especially in hindsight.
'The Party', which tells the tale of a dinner party awkwardly gone awry, plays out in real time and relies solely on the dynamics between its seven core characters, who here deliver dialogue that mostly does that debatably grounding and realistic thing of actually being about quote unquote 'nothing' - swapping Tarantino's signature pop culture spewing style with one that focuses on the main socio-economic and political views of modern Britain (issues which have their place and need to be talked about but are here used as filler); while it is fairly entertaining for the majority of its very short run-time, once you look back on the overall narrative it feels somewhat empty (and dare I say unnecessary) especially when you know where it leaves off and how many of its seemingly insignificant plot strands are simply left dangling, though as a darkly satirical piece there are a few nice moments which stand out from the otherwise forgettable picture which is technically very well conceived to feel as though an encounter one might have at an unfortunate New Years Eve party. 6/10
Pure fun
Shot in black and white and clocking in at just over an hour, it is one of the more original movies coming out of the Berlinale. Several elements stand out, like the production design by Carlos Conti (37°2 le matin) with its odd, detached feeling bringing to the movie, but also the daring cinematography by Aleksei Rodionov (Idi I smotri, Orlando!) combined with good editing makes the movie work.

So nice work in all sectors, but basically it is the actors who have to carry through in this dark comedy, somewhat difficult to define: Third screwball, third Woody Allen, and a third Britcom but definitely with a style of its own.

Potter herself gave the best synopsis by calling it a movie about ideals and convictions getting tested in a crisis situation. The really good script lines are dispersed among the excellent cast, although I do have a weakness for the role of Timothy Spall, such a great and modest actor, gripping the movie from the start onwards.

Why not rate this higher? I think it lacks a really great ambition, it is a nice ensemble piece, but despite the good things feels somewhat empty, more entertainment than art. The sum of the parts just doesn't add up enough for me, which often means the difference between OK and excellent.
A witty satire on 'polite society'
The story of 'The Party' was unbeknownst to me upon my viewing of the film. All I knew was that it is directed by British Auteur Sally Potter and stars Kristen Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall and Cillian Murphy, which is the extent of context I will divulge here as I feel it is better to watch this film knowing very little about its narrative.

Although simplistic in its base narrative, underneath 'The Party' is a short, snappy, satirical view on the modern day socio-political climate. It paints the modern system of politics as ineffective at implementing change, suggesting a more immediate method is required in this day and age to keep up with such a rapidly changing world. The film succeeds and does this effectively through witty dialogue, articulately crafted Mise en Scene and a comedic narrative progression.

The narrative progression I refer to is the advancement of the characters into pure chaos after the guise of 'polite society' is stripped away, revealing the hypocrisy behind its ideals and presentation. This chaos is the crux of the film as it magnificently illustrates the futility of the mask that the upper class have created for themselves, which the film heightens through comedic elements giving the film a heavily satirical atmosphere.

Furthermore, the films caricatured characters play a crucial role in conveying the film's message as many of them are hypocrites, their real faces hiding behind the mask of what 'polite society' expects to see, with costume being cleverly utilised to convey to us the true thoughts and feelings of many of the characters whilst simultaneously acting as a red herring in some circumstances, illustrating how we cannot always know whether or not people are truly what they present themselves as, linking to another key message the film discusses: distrust in the political landscape.

However, although the film has a profound message, it suffers from being very simplistic on its surface. The story is cliché and predictable with a couple of drawn out dull moments, with the real meat of the film laying underneath, and whilst this is the case for most films, the surface has to be captivating at the same time in order to engage the audience. In this sense 'The Party' could be potentially divisive for audiences as the film runs the risk of appearing pretentious and dull for some viewers, which I can confirm as many left my screening of the film verbally disgruntled.

In conclusion, 'The Party' is an incredibly humorous, satirical take on modern day society's political landscape as well as the hypocrisy of 'polite society' and its bloated sense of self righteousness. Although it has its flaws, 'The Party' is a highly entertaining film with a punchy message that really sticks with you after you've left the theatre: indecision is the face of modern day politics, and that desperately needs to change.
Incredibly competent
Congratulations are in order for the hostess of a London drinks party, but the guests aren't comfortable. And there's a gun.

Fantastic cast, big issues, weak dialogue, poor characterisation, nicely shot, well edited. And the ambient music is enjoyable.

Disappointed. The situation is tightly wound, but fizzles out in unreal conflicts with zero humour - apart from the snappy end twist. The obvious source for laughs is the sore-thumb banker, but he's just a ball of sweaty nerves and passes up the opportunity for good lines when trying to dispose of the gun. Every character is a place holder for particular attitudes that do not define a human being.

It's short, and many people have praised it. For me, it was slight and not well developed. Grrr.
Entertaining and witty
It's really hard to find a good comedy nowadays and this film is a rare gem. The plot pokes fun at today's society and its fallen ideals and in lesser extent it also deal with complex relationships. I also really liked that it's in black and white which gives it a special, more intimate feel. Really enjoyed it and would recommend it to all fans of good comedy.
A party you really would not want to be invited to
"The Party" is a British English-language film from 2017 and it is the newest work by acclaimed writer and director Sally Potter. It is a modern black-and-white film actually and it is pretty short at 70 minutes that already include some credits at the beginning and a lot more at the end. The name Potter obviously attracted several stars to this project as the people appearing in here are all successful and established actors. The only one I was not really familiar with here is Cherry Jones and even she is an Emmy winner. Go figure. It all seems fairly harmless early on when we find out a politician is giving a party for her friends to celebrate herself because she was just given an important political job in the country. That's why there is also another reason behind the title. But pretty much each and every guest has a secret to reveal as well and they will be shocking for everybody. The fact that one guest even brings a gun is not really helping either in terms of harmony. Eventually the movie profits a lot from its stage character. I am sure there will be British stage theaters showing this one in the future and it is a good choice. I also believe the actors did a good jib mostly. This is really not about liking the characters, even if I would say that Ganz, Jones and maybe Murphy too played characters that weren't that despicable. Bruno Ganz was also one of the main reasons why I wanted to see this one and he sure did not disappoint. But there was a problem with the script here and there. Especially the really dark take on comedy was not always working. One example would be Clarkson's quote about KST's character being in the spot to kill. This was not authentic, but fairly unrealistic. Clarkson's character sure was a bitch, but this quote did not fit at all. The ending I am not very big on either. Sure it is showy and memorable with the plot twist too, but is she really realistically shoot somebody for jealousy reasons that she just ended the relationship an hour ago via phone? Nah. Despite these flaws though I believe the film still had some decent entertainment to offer and the short runtime helps matters too. Not a problem at all. It may not be as good as Potter's previous work "Ginger & Rosa" (2012), but the positive is still more frequent than the negative in "The Party" (at least for audience members, for the invited not so much) and that's why I give it a thumbs-up. Worth seeing.
A theatrical standard brought to the big screen
The middle-class dinner party in which the thin veneer of polite society is ripped away to expose the dog-eat-dog savagery underneath has provided ample fodder for playwrights since probably the birth of theatre, but films in which such a gathering is the sole focus are rarer. So step forward British auteur Sally Potter.

Having been appointed Shadow Minister for Health, Janet (Kristen Scott Thomas) and her husband Bill (Timothy Spall) throw a celebratory dinner party for their friends: the acerbic April (Patricia Clarkson) and (played by Bruno Ganz) her new age partner Gottfried ("prick an aromatherapist and you'll find a fascist" says April); lesbian professor Martha and her 'Masterchef' runner-up partner Jinny (Emily Mortimer), who is carrying their purchased foetuses ("babies are born every day, in large numbers - large enough to put our planet at risk" is April's unsentimental but accurate comment). Banker Tom (Cillian Murphy) arrives with his wife's apologies: she will be along later. Thus the stage is set, but when a champagne cork shatters a window it is an omen that this will be a dinner party none of the attendees will soon forget.

Trendy lefties who spend too much time thinking are an open goal when it comes to comedy, with their talk of 'post-post-feminism' and their professorships in Utopian Americanism, and Potter does not miss the target in her - I suspect affectionate - mickey-taking. There is nothing original in this - not even the 'twist' at the end - but the film is so entertaining that does not matter (with one exception: when banker Tom heads to the bathroom to snort cocaine I rolled my eyes - just once I would like to see a fictional young banker who *does not* have a coke habit: don't any of them simply put the kettle on?)

There is good acting all around: Clarkson gets all the best lines - albeit at the expense of depth of character - but that merely makes the others work harder with the lines they have been given. Thomas, whose character is the most fully-formed, is noteworthy.

At just over seventy minutes this is rather a short film. Quite why Potter decided to make it in black-and-white I do not know - extra filmsnob points I suppose. But it is hugely entertaining and I look forward to seeing it again. (After all, any film which lists in the credits 'production dog' *must* be good!)
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