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10 Family Dinner Scenes to Distract You from Your Family Dinner

A time to give thanks for YouTube

Oct 6, 2017

Use your internet-browsing time away from the table wisely. Here are 10 moments of cinematic inspiration to help you handle your long, uncomfortable Thanksgiving family dinner.

1) The Gold Rush (1925): The roll dance

If you need to retreat to a happy place in your mind, conjure up one of the most memorable moments in cinema history: Charlie Chaplin's elegant bread-roll ballet.

2) The Trip (2010): "The same meal"

"We start out a bit awkward, have some wine, have some more wine, get cantankerous, pick faults with each other, and it descends into a bitter, unhappy end to the meal." Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon describing their cyclical meals in Michael Winterbottom's culinary road-trip series is perhaps the recipe for every Thanksgiving dinner.

3) Lucky (2017): Harry Dean Stanton’s swan song

Show this to any relative who insists on pulling out their guitar at a family gathering. Sometime during John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky (now playing TIFF Bell Lightbox), an 88-minute cinematic love letter to its legendary leading man Harry Dean Stanton, the late, great actor delivers an impromptu, emotional, quavering version of “Volver, Volver” with a mariachi band at a little boy’s birthday party. We’re not crying, you’re crying.

4) The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972): Sobbing and red wine

In difficult times, it's important to reflect on the problems of those more fortunate. And there's no better way to invite a realization of comparative luck than by watching Luis Buñuel’s deliciously satiric masterpiece about an upper-class group who gather for dinner but never eat, owing to a series of increasingly surreal interruptions.

5) Sieranevada (2016): The political relative

In this kitchen scene, director Cristi Puiu conveys "the exasperation that arises from the half-informed political arguments at gatherings, alcohol-fuelled debates that go nowhere and ultimately serve no purpose but to anger everyone involved" (Slant Magazine). Thank God that only happens in Romania!

6) Gosford Park (2001): "How horrid"

Let's face it: we've all pulled a Bob Balaban and described a movie that foreshadowed the entire outcome of our dinner party, to the increasing discomfort of our guests.

7) The Ice Storm (1997): Say "Grace"

Christina Ricci's socially conscious, resentful Wendy pointing out the hypocrisies of celebration in Ang Lee's Thanksgiving drama is a blueprint for every Millennial “truthbomb” dropped at forced family gatherings.

8) Star Trek VI (1991): "The very name is racist"

"We know where this is leading: the very annihilation of our culture." How can a discussion — set 300 years into the future — so exactly mirror today's post-election dinner-table conversation? Oh Star Trek, you know us so well.

9) Close Encounters of The Third Kind (1977): Mashed potatoes

Signs you've made too much food for dinner: your dad starts crying uncontrollably and piles a mountain of mashed potatoes into the shape of the Devil's Tower while repeating: "This means something."

10) Eat Drink Man Woman (1994): Preparation

The opening of Ang Lee's family fable is arresting for the careful attention and love that goes into Mr. Chu's preparation for his weekly family dinners. The sumptuously shot sequence communicates everything you need to know about the widowed chef and his devotion to his daughters. Kids, call your parents.

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