Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Player [1992]

Number of cine-goers have placed Robert Altman’s The Player on the same pedestal as Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard for its unflinching and biting look at the movie business and the Hollywood studio system. Though I consider that as a travesty, there’s no doubting the artistic value of the film. Altman had hit a rough patch in the 80’s before he hit the jackpot with this movie which was aimed at the very foundation of the industry that fed him. The movie is about Griffin Mill, a writer-friendly studio-exec, who starts receiving threatening anonymous mails from a writer for not getting back to him as promised. And, to compound matters further, he’s not just under considerable pressure professionally, he ends up accidentally killing a down-and-out writer taking him to be the mysterious stalker. But, in Hollywood, every crime comes second to a box-office flop, and that’s something which Mill knows like the back of his hands. Tim Robbins gave a fine turn as the shrewd, cocky and paranoid Mill, making him the perfect embodiment of what the movie stood for. It is filled with cinematic references – its 8-minute single-take opening shot, for instance, was a homage to Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil – along with moments of technical bravura, like the film-within-a-film finale. And its self-reflexive critique added touches of dark irony to the topsy-turvy plot. Also, hats off to Altman for managing to elicit guest appearances from a plethora of stars.

Director: Robert Altman
Genre: Thriller/Showbiz Satire
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

Oh I've always liked this one, and appreciate the no-nonsense excellent assessment. Yes Robins' work here is first-rate the script is witty and it is filled with cinematic homages, all point you acknowledge yourself here. It's not my favorite Altman film, but I'd say it's up there.

Great review.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. I loved the wildly swinging plot that seemed to be going nowhere & everywhere. And it was also fun spotting all the celebs who provided guest appearances. I hope they receive the shock of their lives when they later found that the movie was such a strong indictment against Hollywood itself.

Keith Braithwaite said...

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