Customer Reviews


141 Reviews
5 star:
 (82)
4 star:
 (32)
3 star:
 (9)
2 star:
 (11)
1 star:
 (7)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joe Gillis calling...
"Players only love you when they're playing." --Stevie Nicks

Griffin Mill, whose name has a kind of ersatz Hollywood feel to it (cf., D. W. Griffith/Cecil B. De Mille), is not a player with hearts so much as a player with dreams. He is a young and powerful film exec who hears thousands of movie pitches a year, but can only buy twelve. So he must do a lot of...
Published on August 21, 2001 by Dennis Littrell

versus
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I�ll have a Perrier with a twist of�"
I saw THE PLAYER the first time in a packed theater in Santa Monica. The audience, which no doubt contained many people from the entertainment community, laughed knowingly throughout. I couldn't help thinking, though, that the biggest joke was on them. For if THE PLAYER depicts a corrupt environment, it's the people in that world that make it that way.
As usual,...
Published on September 27, 2000 by Charles S. Tashiro


‹ Previous | 1 215 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joe Gillis calling..., August 21, 2001
This review is from: The Player [VHS] (VHS Tape)
"Players only love you when they're playing." --Stevie Nicks

Griffin Mill, whose name has a kind of ersatz Hollywood feel to it (cf., D. W. Griffith/Cecil B. De Mille), is not a player with hearts so much as a player with dreams. He is a young and powerful film exec who hears thousands of movie pitches a year, but can only buy twelve. So he must do a lot of dissembling, not to mention outright lying, along with saying "We'll get back to you," etc. This is what he especially must say to writers. And sometimes they hold a grudge. In this case one of the rejected writers begins to stalk Griffin Mill and send him threatening postcards. And so the plot begins.

Tim Robbins, in a creative tour de force, plays Griffin Mill with such a delightful, ironic charm that we cannot help but identify with him even as he violates several layers of human trust. The script by Michael Tolkin smoothly combines the best elements of a thriller with a kind of Terry Southern satirical intent that keeps us totally engrossed throughout. The direction by Robert Altman is full of inside Hollywood jokes and remembrances, including cameos by dozens of Hollywood stars, some of whom get to say nasty things about producers. The scenes are well-planned and then infused with witty asides. The tampon scene at police headquarters with Whoopi Goldberg is an hilarious case in point, while the sequence of scenes from Greta Scacchi's character's house to the manslaughter scene outside the Pasadena Rialto, is wonderfully conceived and nicely cut. Also memorable is the all black and white dress dinner scene in which Cher is the only person in red, a kind of mean or silly joke, depending on your perspective. During the same scene Mill gives a little speech in which he avers that "movies are art," a statement that amounts to sardonic irony since, as a greedy producer, he cares nothing at all about art, but only about box office success. His words also form a kind of dramatic irony when one realizes that this movie itself really is a work of art. As Altman observes in a trailing clip, the movie "becomes itself." The Machiavellian ending illustrates this with an almost miraculous dovetailing. This is the kind of script that turns most screen writers Kermit-green with envy.

Incidentally, Joe Gillis, the Hollywood writer played by William Holden in Sunset Boulevard--personifying all unsuccessful screen writers--actually does call during the movie, but Mill doesn't recognize the name and has to be told he is being put on, further revealing the narrow confines of his character.

In short, this is a wonderfully clever, diabolically cynical satire of Hollywood and the movie industry. This is one of those movies that, if you care anything at all about film, you must see. Period. It is especially delicious if you hate Hollywood. It is also one of the best movies ever made about Hollywood, to be ranked up there with A Star is Born (1937) (Janet Gaynor, Fredric March); Sunset Boulevard (1950); A Star is Born (1954) (Judy Garland, James Mason); and Postcards from the Edge (1990).

I must add that in the annals of film, this has to go down as one of the best Hollywood movies not to win a single Academy Award, although it was nominated for three: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing. I suspect the Academy felt that the satire hit a little too close to home for comfort.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!"
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Making a "Killing" in Showbiz (4.5 stars), January 29, 2004
By 
Michael Crane (Orland Park, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Player (Special Edition) (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
Can movies about the movie business actually be exciting and worth watching? "The Player" most certainly is an exciting and worth-while film that has many layers within it. At first glance, this appears only as an odd thriller that's both bizarre and unbelievable--but upon further investigation, you'll find out that this is something that is so much more than your ordinary thriller.
Griffin Mill is a studio executive that listens to movie pitches on a daily basis. Some pitches are great while others aren't as fantastic. One of the writers that Griffin never called back seems to have held a grudge against him, as he sends him threatening post-cards telling the exec that his days are numbered. Not knowing what else to do, Griffin decides to confront the suspected writer only to end up being involved in a murder. As he tries to cover his tracks and play it cool, it is clear that Griffin has been thrown into an uncontrollable scenario that could only be found in the movies.
I admit that the first time I saw this film, I didn't really know how to react to it. I didn't know if I liked it, but I knew that I didn't hate it. And, I confess that by the end of the movie, I was scratching my head in confusion. It was the second viewing where I really found out what the movie was all about and came to love it. The movie is not your typical thriller. It actually is more of a satire that targets the movie industry and movies in general. And, it's done in such a way that you really don't catch onto that with the first viewing, as you're caught up in the story and are convinced that you're watching nothing more than a thriller. This movie has a number of layers to it--even layers that I probably haven't caught onto yet. You know a film has unquestionable power when you are tricked into believing that it is something else the first time and then come to realize that it is something completely different the next time around.
The film is brilliantly directed by Robert Altman. There's no way in heck that the movie would be the success it is had it been under a different director. He knew exactly what he wanted and how to get it. The acting from Tim Robbins and company is really a sight to see. It's also a treat to see so many cameos by different famous actors that we all know and love.
The DVD has a few goodies to offer for those who enjoy DVD extras. The picture is decent looking--nothing extraordinary, but decent. It says on the back cover that it was remastered in "High Definition," but I think improvements could've been made in certain areas. Extras on the DVD include commentary from the director and writer, a Robert Altman featurette, deleted scenes, the original trailer and more. A pretty nice package that doesn't disappoint with exception towards picture quality in some areas.
"The Player" is a superbly executed film that doesn't jump out right away to let you know what it is really all about. On the first viewing, the movie appears to be nothing more than an off-the-wall thriller, but on a second viewing you will come to find that it is something more. It's not a movie that will be loved by everybody, but for those who love odd films with hidden structures and meanings will absolutely love it. If you have an open-mind and want to take a chance by seeing something that isn't so ordinary, "The Player" awaits for you. -Michael Crane
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Intelligent and Entertaining Thriller, April 11, 2002
By 
max saravia (houston, tx United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Player (Special Edition) (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
"The Player" is one of those fascinating comedic thrillers with one defined dramatic plot, and various subplots dealing with the movie industry. Player is not a fast paced thriller, but rather an intelligent and laid back story surrounded by Hollywood and the business of film making. Tim Robbins plays Griffin Mill, a studio executive whose main job is to decide which scripts make it to the big screen. When he starts receiving threatening postcards, he suspects they come from a writer whose script was turned down. Hence, he tries to identify the writer in order to pay him off and stop the blackmail. Apparently he found the writer , apparently not. Murder. Whoopi Goldberg's performance as detective Avery, investigating the murder, is simply wonderful and provides humor with her spicy language. For the rest of the plot, you must see the movie. Directed by Robert Altman (Gosford Park), Player's cast include Greta Scacchi, Peter Gallagher, Fred Ward, Lyle Lovett and numerous cameo appearances by familiar faces such as Lily Tomlin, Bruce Willis, Robert Wagner, Susan Sarandon, Julia Roberts, Nick Nolte, Andie McDowell, John Cusack, to name a few. Besides the main plot, this is certainly a good perspective of how decisions are made in Hollywood, and the dynamics and politics of movie making . Player views the "film noir" and independent film making alternatives, and flirts with the concepts of dissociation of the big studios with the artistic ("Ars Gratia Artis") philosophies of the old days, those being replaced with the "money-making-happy-ending" driving forces of modern day Hollywood. DVD version.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I�ll have a Perrier with a twist of�", September 27, 2000
By 
This review is from: The Player (Special Edition) (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
I saw THE PLAYER the first time in a packed theater in Santa Monica. The audience, which no doubt contained many people from the entertainment community, laughed knowingly throughout. I couldn't help thinking, though, that the biggest joke was on them. For if THE PLAYER depicts a corrupt environment, it's the people in that world that make it that way.
As usual, Altman gets all the details right: the receptionist being coached in the proper way to answer the phone; the asinine rationalizations of non-talents hawking fifth-rate ideas; or the constant shifts in fashion represented by my favorite joke, the running gag about the bottled waters. Also as usual, any deeper insight is lacking. Altman focuses on greed and power hunger, and daringly implies they may be the cause of Hollywood's problems. It's not much of a recommendation for a satire that it "reveals" something everyone knows going into the theater. (If the film showed the people around Robbins cognizant and accepting of his guilt, for example, or if it showed audiences reacting favorably to the mish-mash he ends up producing, it would have more punch.)
It's been said that every film about Hollywood tells basically the same story, and there's a reason for it. Stories, as works of art, have an inherent form. They are logical, and inevitably impose that logic on the events they recount. Hollywood is essentially illogical; it cannot be captured by story-telling, because no narrative can express its inherent flight from reason. Exaggerations like allowing an executive to get away with murder are momentarily diverting metaphors, funny twists which nonetheless pale before the daily insanity of a town running on bluff, incompetence, deceit and stupidity. Besides, if any Hollywood filmmaker came close to showing its real depravity, he'd never work again. Breaking Tinseltown's code of silence is its one unforgiveable sin.
THE PLAYER is certainly a reasonable addition to the films-about-Hollywood genre, and fits well on Altman's resume. It's moderately entertaining, and harmless enough as long as you recognize that its depiction of Hollywood is about as accurate as GONE WITH THE WIND's depiction of the Civil War. It flatters audiences into thinking that they're thinking, when in fact they are reacting precisely as planned. In short, pure Hollywood.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Altman Classic., March 22, 2000
By 
Jason Stein (San Diego, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Player (Special Edition) (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
This is a great film about film execs in Hollywood. A good mystery with biting humor and insight into the power/control world of movie-making. Tim Robbins is excellent in the lead role and Robert Altman's directing is superior. The story is great, especially if you've been an actor, director, producer or anyone in dealing with stage or film making. This is a must have for Altman fans and for movie collectors.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simply Altman's best, March 19, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Player [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The Player is one of those movies that brings you in, completely, to the world of Tinseltown. But like John Turturro's coming of age in Barton Fink, Altman pulls the curtain of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. In this case, what we see is more real than people probably realize. It's Hollywood in all its' cutthroat corporate culture, with zealous (and jealous) young executives only too willing to stab their partners, lovers and colleagues in the back - multiple times. What fun! You see the characters, you believe their motives, and the world Altman brings to the screen suddenly becomes akin to passing a motor vehicle accident on the highway: it's disturbing, creepy, often heart-wrenching, yet strangely compelling (for those of you with David Cronenberg on the brain!). The cast is great, and The Player gives Altman-favorites like Tim Robbins and Lyle Lovett ample opportunity to flex their creative muscle, Lovett with probably less than half a dozen lines. But it's Altman's technical skill that literally brings down the house. The opening tracking shot, the multiple conversations, imaginative camera angles and the juanty pace of the film make The Player truly a memorable film, easily Altman's best.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Movie for Movie Buffs, February 9, 2007
This review is from: The Player (Special Edition) (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
In the realm of satire, "The Player" is one of the best. A viscous, funny satire about Hollywood that can easily be called one of Robert Altman's best films. This is a movie buff movie, in the sense that it is jam-packed with film references and celebrity cameos. Not only is it entertaining, well made, well written, and well acted. It's fun to watch. Tim Robbins plays Griffin Mill, a Hollywood hotshot studio executive who is in danger of losing his job. Around the same time, he begins receiving anonymous death threats from a rejected screenwriter (Vincent D'Onofrio). Upon learning who the screenwriter is, he meets him at a movie theatre. Their meeting ends with Griffin killing the man. Making the death look like a botched robbery, Griffin tries to return to normal but finds that he's being followed by a mysterious man (Lyle Lovett) and is questioned frequently by a pair of cops (one of who is Whoopi Goldberg). To top it off, Griffin finds himself falling for the screenwriter's girlfriend. The movie's huge cast includes Fred Ward, Malcolm McDowell, Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis, Nick Nolte, Kim Basinger, Alec Baldwin, Lily Tomlin, Susan Sarandon, Scott Glenn, and many others...Many appearing only in mere cameos. Not a lot of director's could handle this sort of material. Only Robert Altman could have gathered as many actors for one film and not turned into a forced, convoluted film. Altman was a fantastic director who made many great films over the course of his long career ('McCabe & Mrs. Miller' & 'Short Cuts' & 'M*A*S*H' to name a few) and "The Player" ranks right up there with the best. It cuts down deep to the center of Hollywood, exposing the darkside of it and doesn't candy coat anything. The movie accomplishes what Billy Wilder did with 'Sunset Boulevard.' He tells it exactly how it is. Some people won't like the film...As I said it has a lot of movie references. Many of which most people won't understand. This isn't a movie for the casual film viewer. But it is one of the best satires around and certainly one of the best HOLLYWOOD satires around. Definitely worth seeing.

GRADE: A

R.I.P.

Robert Altman
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Viewers Who Like to Be Challenged, October 23, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Player (Special Edition) (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
"The Player" could be considered Altman's "Big Lebowski" in that it withholds much of its pleasure from the first viewing and then begins to grow on you after you have seen it a couple times. This is because it is basically a huge inside joke on mainstream Hollywood film-making, with too many obscure references for a Hollywood outsider to effectively process the first time around.

Also like "The Big Lebowski, the satire and sardonic wit is packaged around what appears to be a crime drama, with the straight drama itself engaging enough to entertain most viewers the first time around.

Tim Robbins plays Griffin Mill, a high level studio executive whose job is listening to the countless pitches that come his way from aspiring writers wanting to get their screen play into production. The studio only produces a dozen features a year so Griffin mostly hands out rejections. He has made at least one major enemy during the process, an unknown writer who begins sending him threatening postcards.

Griffin thinks he has a line on the identity of his enemy, an unpublished writer named David Kahane (Vincent D'Onofrio-Private Pyle in "Full Metal Jacket) who lives in the valley with his artist girlfriend (Greta Scacchi). But their confrontation goes bad and Griffin accidentally kills him. Things get worse for Griffin; he becomes the main suspect for the murder, he gets a post-murder postcard revealing that he murdered the wrong guy, and he is in danger of being replaced by a newly hired hotshot Larry Levy (Peter Gallagher).

"The Player" is most famous for an eight-minute tracking shot at the very beginning of the film, self-reflexively compared to Hitchcock's "Rope" and to Welles' "Touch of Evil"; and full of Altman's trademark overlapping dialogue. Also notable are the 50 or so actors who make cameo appearances throughout the feature; most just play themselves (it is after all set in Hollywood) and it is entertaining just trying to identify everyone.

The DVD has a commentary by Altman and writer Michael Tolkin. Unfortunately Altman's film-making style does not lend itself to organized reflection so he mostly just rambles on about everything but the film; and Tolkin has major issues with the whole Hollywood scene so his commentary is just a continuous rant and whine about the system.

It is important to remember that Altman is essentially a Hollywood black sheep who has been at war with Hollywood his whole career. The Hollywood establishment is uncomfortable with him because he won't make their standard pre-sold product and yet he manages to crank out enough commercial successes on his own terms to keep them off balance.

"The Player" is kind of his revenge picture, he knew that its production would cause a wave of paranoia to sweep the industry and he made paranoia the defining characteristic of the film. He views Hollywood as a marketing machine that both drives and is driven by the lowest common denominator of audience demographics.

During the opening tracking shot look for Griffin's meeting with Buck Henry, who pitches a sequel to "The Graduate" (Elaine and Benjamin have a daughter and he suggests "The Postgraduate" for the sequel's title). Henry improvised this pitch which is funnier with each viewing, and appropriately also had a cameo in "The Graduate".

These film allusions are everywhere as Hollywood's past seems to be passing judgment on its pathetic present. Watch for the bungled meeting at the hotel, the scene ends with the camera centered on a picture of Hitchcock on the hotel wall-a shot of about the same duration as a typical Hitchcock cameo (in his own films).

For sheer comedy watch for Griffin's visit to police headquarters where the Pasadena detective (Whoopi Goldberg), interviews him in the busy squad room. Another detective (Lyle Lovett) is a movie buff who keeps chanting "One of us! One of us!" from "Freaks".

Griffin plots to derail the threat inside the studio by setting up Levy with a script pitched by self-styled auteur Tom Oakley (Richard E. Grant). It's a Susan Hayward vehicle with the heroine going to the gas chamber because "it's reality, and that's what happens." Oakley wants real which means no stars and a non-Hollywood ending. Julia Roberts and Bruce Willis are mentioned as exactly type of casting Oakley does not want; which foreshadows his pending commercial corruption and artistic compromise.

This is a film that is meant to be watched closely (the beginning tracking shot is Altman's way of getting our attention and warning us that we will need to pay attention). Audience involvement is very important to him and he is counting on a motivated audience who brings considerable prior knowledge to the viewing.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, wonderful commentary track, May 12, 2000
By 
hardly_b (Palo Alto, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Player (Special Edition) (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
Altman is terrific talking about his movies, and this is one my favorites. It is by no means a deep film (the book was more substantial, but I found it too heavy-handed), and it has a breezy, irreverant feel despite being a movie about treachery and murder. There are some deleted scenes on the disc that are interesting, too.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In 25 words or less:, November 14, 2005
This review is from: The Player (Special Edition) (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
"When was the last time you actually bought a ticket to see a movie, you actually paid your own money to see it?"

"Last night, Pasedena. The Bicycle Thief."

"It's an art movie. It doesn't count. We're talking about movie movies."

Robert Altman is one of my favorite directors, mainly for the way he finds insight in the most inane actions or phrases. This short exchange has many layers when taken out of context and many more when taken in context. With this dialog, The Player reveals exactly why Hollywood movies don't make the money they should. Not because they don't make quality films, but because when a good movie does make money, it doesn't count because it's not a "movie movie." If he stopped to really listen to what was being said, he would've seen that art films have a great drawing power and actually don't cost much to make. But people still wonder why the modern film industry is suffering.

Wait, there's more. The people in the room don't know it, but producer Griffin Mill, in a fit of paranoia, killed an unemployed screenwriter outside the theater that night. He was being stalked by a writer, but he blamed (and murdered) the wrong one. Now he's still being stalked, still in danger of losing his job, and the cops suspect him of murder. Not a good week for Mister Mill.

As the conversation presses on, Mill's potential replacement passes around a newspaper, telling people to read random headlines to be made into scripts. Mill spots the story on his murder which we're already watching play out in a movie.

Yes, it's that type of movie, the self-referential Hollywood movie about Hollywood movies that keeps teasing itself for the viewers' enjoyment. We've seen it about a thousand times before (or since): Get Shorty, Adaptation, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, even certain elements of 8 1/2. There's really nothing too special about it, but this one has much more subtlety and is much more believable. Pay close attention to the ending scene, and think about what words they're using opposed to what they're really saying.

There's really only one word for a film like this: "Clever!"
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 215 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Player (Special Edition) (New Line Platinum Series)
Used & New from: $14.84
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.