The Player Reviews
This is a fairly scathing satire, but Altman said it's actually rather gentle. I was somewhat disappointed by this, as I had been lead to believe that this was a very bleak and ruthless look at the screwed up world of the Hollywood system. I still really enjoyed the movie, and I loved how Altman successfully bit the hand that fed him, but it just ended up being something a little different from what I was hoping for. Ironically, this was a big hit for the director, and it was part of his early 90s renaissance that revitalized his long but flailing career.
The film has great production values, and is pretty intelligent with its aims. The legendary opening is a roughly 8 minute long take that tracks through the studio lot, weaving in and out of Griffin hearing various (and ridiculous) movie pitches. What really makes it shine is that it is a long take that makes several references to other famous long takes, and all of the dialogue was improvised. That's how you start a movie!
The Player is also well known for having around 60 or so cameos by many well known entertainers, some for maybe just a second or two, with many of them appearance for little to no pay. I'm not going into all the details of who shows up, but trust me, there's plenty of recognizable faces. The main cast is where the film is also quite strong, with Tim Robbins's performance as Griffin being one of his best. Whoopi Goldberg and Lyle Lovett are also pretty good as two detectives who firmly believe that Mill is guilty, and will stop at nothing to prove it. I also really liked Peter Gallagher as Mill's rival.
All in all, this is a really good film. It's a tad overrated, but still worth checking out, especially if you dig Altman, satires, and/or movies about movie making.
Griffin Mill: Oh Larry, I didn't realize you had a drinking problem.
Larry Levy: Well I don't really, but that's where all the deals are being made these days.
A very good Hollywood satire portraying the early 90s movie culture. This is a movie that goes right along as a companion piece with American Psycho, another satire focused on 80s culture. Both of these films are darkly hilarious.
Tim Robbins stars as a studio executive who's job is to say yes or no to movie pitches. He starts to receive death letters from a screenwriter he has rejected and attempts to take matters into his own hand. What follows is a mix of Hitchcock thriller and satirical plays the life of someone involved in Hollywood.
Hitchcock isn't the only clear reference hear, director Robert Altman takes cues from all sorts of movies. First example comes in the opening shot of the movie, which is a very long and has actors coming in and out discussing other films with long, continuous shots.
The supporting cast, which includes Fred Ward, Peter Gallagher, and Whoopi Goldberg among others are all very good as well. This movie is also a who's who of early 90s popularity, as it features over 50 celebrity cameos, all of whom improv their presence on screen.
A lot of the dialogue throughout the movie is improvised, and a lot of it is very funny. Though some of the humor is very subtle, it is easily a movie that I can watch again soon because it is very enjoyable.
Andy Civelli: Griffin, you move in mysterious ways, but I like it! I like it!
The film opens with a magnificently orchestrated tracking shot that lasts for at least a good five minutes. Robert Altman hasn't really impressed me all that much with his filmography, but I do admire his directorial skills. Here in The Player, he shines. I love the way he positions his shots, where the main event often takes place in the background with something obscuring it in the foreground.
I loved the final scene, where there is a screening of Habeas Corpus. It has a different ending then it had when originally scripted. Julia Roberts says 'What took you so long?' and Bruce Willis replies with 'Traffic was a bitch.' Then that same scene is re-enacted between Tim Robbins and Greta Scacchi, after Robbins receives a phone call from the mysterious writer summing up the entire movie. Now, tell me that wasn't ingenious.