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The Player

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 03-09-2010


Product Description
“Movies. Now more than ever!” That’s the motto of the movie studio where fast-tracking exec Griffin Bell (Tim Robbins) works. But rumor has it a power play could push Bell out. And a rejected writer who’s sending anonymous death threats could push him under. Robert Altman directs this acclaimed and satiric love/hate valentine to Hollywood, and from the bravura opening tracking shot to the spot-the-star cameos (60+!) to the inside skinny of studio life to the… More >>

The Player

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Comments (5)

“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.
Rating: 5 / 5

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
Rating: 4 / 5

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.
Rating: 5 / 5

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.
Rating: 5 / 5

“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.
Rating: 4 / 5

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