The Player VHS
A wicked satirical fable about corporate backstabbing--and actual murder--in the movie business, The Player benefits from director Robert Altman's long and bitter experience working within, and without, the Hollywood studio system. Rising young executive Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) is tormented by threats from an anonymous writer. The pressure and paranoia build until Griffin loses control one night and semi-accidentally kills screenwriter David Kahane (Vincent D'Onofrio), who may or may not be the source of the threats. From that point, Griffin's life and career begin to fall apart. In keeping with the ironic spirit of the film itself, Altman's scathingly funny attack on the moral bankruptcy of Hollywood was embraced by many of the same people it was intended to savage, and restored the director to commercial and critical favor. Michael Tolkin adapted the screenplay from his own novel, and the movie is studded with cameos by famous faces, many of whom appear as themselves. --Jim Emerson
The digital video disc includes a commentary track with Altman and Tolkin, some deleted scenes, a documentary about Altman, and a key to help identify more than 50 of the picture's big-name cameos. --Jim Emerson
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that we actually end up rooting for even though he`s a villain through the entire movie. Everyone else is great as well especially Whoopi Goldberg as a
hilarious detective. This is one of those movies inside of a movie inside of a movie. Some might find it dated due to being 1992 Hollywood but I also think
that anyone can admit that 1992 Hollywood was much better than Hollywood today. The Player`s script is fantastic and features one of my favorite scenes in film history when Tim Robbins gives his speech about the industry and the importance of great films at the awards show. If you`re a true film lover you will love The Player.
"The Player" opens with a very long continuous shot that is quite a technical achievement, yes, but also works in another way, to summarize Hollywood's state of mind in the early 1990s. Many names and periods are evoked: Silent pictures, foreign films, the great directors of the past. But these names are like the names of saints who no longer seem to have the power to perform miracles. The new gods are like Griffin Mill -- sleek, expensively dressed, noncommittal, protecting their backsides. Their careers are a study in crisis control. If they do nothing wrong, they can hardly be fired just because they never do anything right.
This movie will make you think about all those people in your career life who don't have the power to say "Yes!"......HR people....technical people....middle managers, I think you get the picture.
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.
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