Saturday Mini-Review: The Player

Saturday, July 08, 2006
The first thing you have to know about this film is that it's a Robert Altman film. For many that's enough, indeed far too much. So watch it at your peril. Personally, I've always been a fan of his though he has often disappointed. 3 Women has to be one of the most depressing films made by anybody, ever. Though Altman has certainly worked hard at besting himself in this category. Still, I've always considered him one of the most brilliant and important directors.

I recently came across this interview from 1992 with Altman in Kansas City; I'd never known that he was a native and had always wondered why he had picked that venue for one of his movies. It mentioned The Player and. despite having sworn off Altman, I was intrigued.

Thankfully so, as it turns out. The movie concerns a ruthless Hollywood executive played fairly adequately by Tim Robbins. It's a fine line between totally depressing and dark humor; this movie manages to cross it on the good side. It's a mildly amusing sendup of the nefarious nature of Hollywood behind the scenes. As one who loves movies but loathes Hollywood, it works for me. It's good, but not quite the classic Altman was after. Recommended for all Altman fans or Hollywood haters.


Morgan said...

Thanks for the review, MHA. I've started to avoid Altman films, because while the descriptions fans and critics give are intriguing, I usually find the films themselves to be self-consciously "arty", "dark", and "transgressive" - as though he's constantly asking himself "How can I make this more...[insert above list]".

I may take a look at this one, though. A review from someone who isn't a fan or a critic (critics being people heavily invested in having better taste than the hoi polloi, which means that they must express a love for things that most people hate) carries some weight.

Melissa Nelson said...

Altman is hit and miss, but The Player is one of my favorites of his. I think I saw it twice in the theater when it came out. Heaven knows I loathe Tim Robbins normally, but he's terrific in this role of the smarmy, paranoid studio exec. And Greta Scacchi is so lovely to look at. Lyle Lovett has a great bit part, too.

My views on film have changed quite a bit since 1992, however, so I wonder if I'd enjoy it as much if I saw it again today. But anything that pokes fun at Hollywood can't be all bad.