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"The Player"

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Robert Altman's film about Hollywood, "The Player" (1992), is so fresh, so lively, so innovative - and so DARK - that it could easily have been made yesterday.

 

Tim Robbins, an actor who has never been on my radar, was a revelation.

 

He - and Mr. Altman - carried you through the film with such ease and assurance.

 

It might be the last word on the in's and out's of Hollywood politics and intrigue.

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I have this one on DVD and will have to re-watch it. Like SUNSET BLVD., there is even murder involved! I think, had THE PLAYER been filmed in 1949 like the former, it would have been a more radical film. By 1991-92, Hollywood was OK attacking itself and this film got more praise than scorn. By then we had all kinds of scandals rocking the industry from the 1977 Begelman embezzlement through the wild antics of Peters & Guber at Sony after 1989, all just involving money rather than anything as sinister as displayed with Tim Robbins' character here.

 

One aspect I recall that was interesting was all of the happy ending business with a movie being made. That summed up 1980s Hollywood. It had gotten into a bit of a rut with so many look-alike storylines aimed at what would sell tickets rather then win awards. The big conflict is creativity vs. making money, something that applies to movies and TV since the beginning.

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I have this one on DVD and will have to re-watch it. Like SUNSET BLVD., there is even murder involved! I think, had THE PLAYER been filmed in 1949 like the former, it would have been a more radical film. By 1991-92, Hollywood was OK attacking itself and this film got more praise than scorn. By then we had all kinds of scandals rocking the industry from the 1977 Begelman embezzlement through the wild antics of Peters & Guber at Sony after 1989, all just involving money rather than anything as sinister as displayed with Tim Robbins' character here.

 

One aspect I recall that was interesting was all of the happy ending business with a movie being made. That summed up 1980s Hollywood. It had gotten into a bit of a rut with so many look-alike storylines aimed at what would sell tickets rather then win awards. The big conflict is creativity vs. making money, something that applies to movies and TV since the beginning.

Yes, the storyline that involves the accidental murder is something of a revelation in that Griffin Mill kills the screenwriter whom he believes to be his tormentor, becomes involved with his wife and then marries her (?!) and then goes on to get away with the murder with a most bizarre twist - the one eyewitness to the crime doesn't identify Griffin in a police line-up, but instead a "police plant" who is pretending to be a suspect.

 

Griffin Mill seems to be walking on "hallowed ground".

 

The "every movie must have a happy ending" beat is slammed home hard with the screening of the last scene in a movie whereby the heroine (Julia Roberts) is being "gassed" in a locked chamber only to be rescued after the release of the gas by a cop (Bruce Willis) who breaks into the chamber and carries her nearly unconscious body out.

 

She complains somewhat audibly that he has arrived late - he tells her that there was a lot of traffic.

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