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Classic aficionado

Heads-up: Tonight "The player" (1992) - My thoughts / Your thoughts wanted as well

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Tonight on TCM, "The player" (1992) directed by Robert Altman will be shown.

 

I watched this film in the movie theater, when it came out in the late spring or early summer of 1992.   I had heard and read that this was a comedy and a satire of Hollywood.

(First, as a disclaimer, your mileage may vary, and to each his own.)

 

I would simply like to share my memories of this film - with little to no spoilers as much as possible -  along with my opinions, and would like to open up the floor to your opinions on this film.   I think I will either watch it tonight or record it for viewing later.  My perception of it might change or might not.   It will be the first time in 25 years that I will have seen it, since catching it in the theater.   Therefore, I will be watching this with much older eyes.

 

What I got from watching it was that it was not really a comedy at all.   There were just a few amusing moments.   Other than that, there wasn't really anything humorous, comic, or comedic in it.  To me, it was a hardcore serious drama.   In fact, to me it was a very bleak, gritty, grim, dark, hardcore serious drama at that.  It seemed to be more like a crime drama mixed with a touch of film noir style and with a bizarre touch of erotic drama.   I will give a little bit of credit to this film for one reason - the peculiar and particular use of its cameos.   One of the more positive things that I remember about this film is that a slew of famous and noted film actors and actresses [some that I recognized and a few that I did not] from the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s made appearances in the film in a seamless manner, being very minor characters who happened to be known celebrities and who were both simply and completely part of the film's fabric.   There was a certain charm to it.  These brief cameo appearances were attention-grabbing but not very jarring.   That was one strength of this film.   That was one successful ingredient of this film, that it has some noted movies stars serving as very minor characters in this much larger crime drama - which gives some glimpses or depictions of life in Hollywood concerning the producers, writers, and executives in the movie business.   

 

Overall, for me, the drama and crime drama outweighed whatever little bits that were amusing.  The amusing moments were like small drops in the ocean.   

 

Another thing that I found was that this did not look like or sound like a satire of Hollywood at all.   In fact, it seemed to me more like a great big Valentine to Hollywood.  Either one of these to be frank: at best, a huge love note to Hollywood; or, at worst, a boot-licking for Hollywood.   To me it bordered on a being a glib, self-indulgent salute and tribute to the American film industry - as if to say "Aren't we so hip? cool? fabulous?...etc."   From my perspective, after I had seen it, this film left an aftertaste or an after-effect of condescension and having been pretentiously putting on airs toward its audience.   I absolutely do not blame the cast for this.   I think the cast did well and did everything right, with what was given to them.   I cannot remember a hair being out of place as far as acting or performance goes.    The blame entirely belongs to the story itself, and to the screenwriter(s) responsible for it.    Robert Altman was a talented director and auteur (the crime drama-fantasy "Brewster McCloud", the tense and melancholy psychological drama "3 women", and the edgy but delightful satire-comedy "MASH" are all proof of that), but for me, "The player" just isn't one of his best works.  

 

If I seem to be harsh about this work, then I don't mean to be.  If anyone thinks that I am off the mark on any of these bullets or if anyone disagrees with any of them, I'd like to know your views and your perspectives.  I'm trying to be fair, while I'm also being honest and candid, and sharing what I remember.   I happily welcome your thoughts and opinions and explanations regarding this movie, if you remember it or if you see it on TCM tonight.  

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I saw this on cable way back when, and considered it kind of a dark comedy. I don't remember that much about the film, except Bruce Willis' spoof of his action-hero image near the end.  The moral of the story seemed to be that you could be a rat, but still end up rich, and with the good-looking woman.

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I watched this when TCM ran it a few months ago.  I liked it, not Altman's best, and I'm glad I saw it and mostly agree with your views but I think Altman was making more of an indictment of Hollywood than a tribute.  Altman was more of a studio outsider.  I like 3 WOMEN also and would like to see that one again.

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I would never think of calling The Player a comedy, though it does have comic elements. It's a neo-noir, a cynical view of Hollywood from an insider's perspective, and the lengthy tracking shot in the opening scene, which includes discussions of tracking shots in other movies, is both self-reflexive and self-regarding. Although I enjoyed The Player when it first came out, I have no particular desire to see it again. Altman is a talented director, but I don't think many of his films have held up particularly well.

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I would never think of calling The Player a comedy, though it does have comic elements. It's a neo-noir, a cynical view of Hollywood from an insider's perspective, and the lengthy tracking shot in the opening scene, which includes discussions of tracking shots in other movies, is both self-reflexive and self-regarding. Although I enjoyed The Player when it first came out, I have no particular desire to see it again. Altman is a talented director, but I don't think many of his films have held up particularly well.

 

Exactly how I would also define the genre this film falls into, kingrat.

 

Definitely not a comedy, and in fact barely even a dark comedy, and with the primary and almost sole "running gag" in it being the thought that Hollywood tends to make popular low quality films by churning them out containing "happy endings". I also feel it is anything but a "huge love note to" or "boot-licking" Hollywood as the OP suggests, as the lead character is shown throughout the film to be a ruthless, self-servicing and ignoble man, and due only to Tim Robbins excellently underplaying and humanizing his role makes us care for such a character. And his character isn't the only character in this film who comes across as less than admirable.

 

Classic aficionado, I got the impression after reading your OP that much of your dissatisfaction with this film seems to stem from you initially feeling as if you were mislead about it being more a "comedy" before your first viewing of it, and thus then felt somewhat cheated during and after watching it.

 

This evening's TCM presentation was the fourth time I've now watched this film, and I still have to say I like it very much, and consider it one of the best Hollywood movies about the Hollywood film industry.

 

On a side note, as I watched it again this evening a thought came to me. I started thinking that this film had the feeling as if it could have easily been written and directed by Woody Allen(well, if he wasn't so damned "L.A.-phobic" and "N.Y.-centric"), as it started to remind me of his CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS(another favorite of mine), but in this case without his on-camera presences in order to act as the comic-relief of that film, and the only reason C&M is considered a "comedy-drama". And, because in both movies the culprit ends up with the same fate of...getting away with the crime.

 

(...anybody see what I'm saying here?)

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Exactly how I would also define the genre this film falls into, kingrat.

 

Definitely not a comedy, and in fact barely even a dark comedy, and with the primary and almost sole "running gag" in it being the thought that Hollywood tends to make popular low quality films by churning them out containing "happy endings". I also feel it is anything but a "huge love note to" or "boot-licking" Hollywood as the OP suggests, as the lead character is shown throughout the film to be a ruthless, self-servicing and ignoble man, and due only to Tim Robbins excellently underplaying and humanizing his role makes us care for such a character. And his character isn't the only character in this film who comes across as less than admirable.

 

Classic aficionado, I got the impression after reading your OP that much of your dissatisfaction with this film seems to stem from you initially feeling as if you were mislead about it being more a "comedy" before your first viewing of it, and thus then felt somewhat cheated during and after watching it.

 

This evening's TCM presentation was the fourth time I've now watched this film, and I still have to say I like it very much, and consider it one of the best Hollywood movies about the Hollywood film industry.

 

On a side note, as I watched it again this evening a thought came to me. I started thinking that this film had the feeling as if it could have easily been written and directed by Woody Allen(well, if he wasn't so damned "L.A.-phobic" and "N.Y.-centric"), as it started to remind me of his CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS(another favorite of mine), but in this case without his on-camera presences in order to act as the comic-relief of that film, and the only reason C&M is considered a "comedy-drama". And, because in both movies the culprit ends up with the same fate of...getting away with the crime.

 

(...anybody see what I'm saying here?)

THE PLAYER was supposed to be one of the Lily Tomlin films? How long was she in it?  THE LATE SHOW was OK, but the plot was very hard to follow.

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