The Player

he Player is a wicked masterpiece about a slick Hollywood studio executive whose life is falling apart. Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) is a hotshot. A rival wants his job, and Griffin’s facing a murder rap. But will Griffin face the music or turn his liabilities into assets? Director Robert Altman’s film is packed with irreverence and myriad star cameos (including appearances from Steve Allen, Cher, John Cusack, Peter Falk and Jeff Goldblum). As a satire of the politics of Hollywood, it is fun to see some stars in cameos get to vent a little. The tale follows Griffin through his many contacts — with some actors playing themselves, and others playing fictitious characters. Griffin is a notorious Hollywood studio executive at the top of his game, whose life suddenly comes to a grinding halt when he starts receiving threatening postcards from an anonymous, embittered writer whose script he rejected several months prior. In an attempt to uncover the identity of the mysterious writer, Mill ends up accidentally killing an innocent man in a heated altercation, thinking he was the anonymous writer. Once he discovers he made a devastating mistake, this sordid turn of events turns Mill’s world upside-down and creates a whirlwind of lies, deceit and corruption that he desperately tries to not only keep up, but ultimately get away with in the end. The story is absorbing, surprising & quite natural — like spying through someone’s window. This is the best movie about how ridiculous Hollywood really is. It gives a glimpse into the sausage-making that goes into creating a Hollywood product. Robert Altman’s The Player proves itself to be one of the most ingenious concepts to have ever come out of Hollywood. A delicious satire/social commentary on the film-making industry, The Player provides clever, insightful and witty social remarks on the truly formulaic and distasteful business side of movie-making. Not only does it manage to dish out some cunning jabs at Hollywood and its various constituents, but it is also good-humored enough to not take itself too seriously by poking fun at its own ironies. Back when this film was released in 1992, many Hollywood insiders commented that The Player was uncomfortably true. That is, producers like Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins at his best), a totally amoral person who’s in it only for himself, are very common in Hollywood. Insiders said that anyone who wants to try to break in with a script in Tinseltown should first see this scathing indictment of the ice-cold “business” practices there, to be prepared. It is an extremely ‘inside’ film. I worked in Hollywood for many years and this is, without a doubt, the greatest satire on that business that I have ever seen. There have been many good ones that make me laugh out loud: The Big PictureState & MainLiving In Oblivion, etc. But this one is absolutely sublime. Nearly everyone I knew in the business worshiped The Player for its dead-on portrayal. The only people I met who didn’t like it were some studio executives. Too close to home, I guess. I can understand how it might hold less interest for people who aren’t privy to the inner workings of Hollywood. Though The Player may be geared more towards individuals who are more apt to understand and appreciate the ins-and-outs of the film-making industry, its practices, and the big names who run it, it can still be enjoyed as an edge-of-your-seat, cat-and-mouse thriller filled with the sort of traditional mystery and suspense that old classic Hollywood was known for churning out in the Golden Age. This film was so lethal in its selective poison that the industry went on the defensive against Robert Altman. You have to hand it to Altman, after years of professional purgatory after the wrongly perceived failure of Popeye, Hollywood’s big time independent filmmaker decides to stage his comeback with a commercial film that takes big swipes at Big Hollywood and the pinhead executives that run it. This film spits in the face of the industry that will love you one moment and kick you to the curb the next. It is a satire of the typical Hollywood movie, particularly with the emphasis on a happy ending. It turns into an indictment of Hollywood’s obsession with movies with happy endings, even though almost all characters in the film claim to hate happy endings. Bottom line: They will sell their morals and souls for the right money.The Player is given a nominal happy ending that truly isn’t. Very clever movie. Very cool twist! When we went back to look at the opening shot again, the whole film made sense. I found it completely entertaining and very well done acting as well as the story. Great writing, performances, directing. It’s well-cast and Tim Robbins was particularly good in this. It’s not a traditional comedy, but certainly filled with dark humor. Recommended if you like movies about showbiz. If you’re a fan of film-making, or are in the film industry, you’ll find this intriguing. Certainly a hidden treasure. This is the movie that turned me into a huge Altman fan. A must-see film for any Altman fan. If you like films that explode with subtlety, you may agree with me that he is one of the greatest American film-makers of the last 50 years. After reading the reviews on Netflix for The Player, it’s clear how polarizing this film is for many people. Satire 1992 R 123 minutes.


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