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THE PLAYER

USA, 1992 (MIFF 1992)

Director: Robert Altman

Robert Altman's inventive black comedy represents a triumphant return from the wilderness and his most accomplished work since Nashville (1975). Based upon Michael Tolkin's satirical novel of celluloid delusions and hypocrisy, it involves a ruthlessly ambi­tious and self-absorbed studio executive named Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) who, enmeshed in a studio power struggle, murders a writer and believes he has the right to manu­facture a 'happy ending" for himself. In-jokes and movie-star cameos abound; more than 60 Hollywood celebrities agreed to perform, working for scale and with their salaries donat­ed to charity.

Last year's Barton Fink chillingly depicted writers-block. But in The Player the writers are blocked by the system itself which snuffs out any trace of originality. (One can only guess at the pitch Altman must have delivered to the financiers to get the green light for this bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you project.)

A Hollywood outsider viewed by the industry in recent times as a washed-up icono­clast, Altman views the business of making movies with an ironic detachment. He depicts the studios as dominated by overpaid sales­men and corporate con-artists. There's an exhilaration to Altman's story-telling and it's backed up with a technical exuberance not seen since his heydey 20 years ago when each new Altman film was eagerly awaited.

The Bad And The Beautiful, Sunset Boulevard, Day For Night and, more recently. The Big Pic­ture, have explored the filmmaking process and the psychology of its participants, but not within such an ambitiously constructed frame­work encompassing suspense thriller, romance and mordant comedy...with that happy end­ing to boot.

See also...

TANNER ‘88

... ... In what may be the best work of two illustri­ous careers, the ever-innovative Robert Altman joined forces with Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, to create a presidential candi­date ... More »

HEALTH

Health is Robert Altman in one of his broad fresco satires of American conventions. And here his subject is a convention — a health food convention in Florida. The script was written by Frank ... More »

PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION

“Not since Woody Allen's Radio Days has anyone created such a cinematic Valentine to the wonderfully imaginative medium of radio as A Prairie Home Companion.” - Hollywood Reporter Protean ... More »

THREE WOMEN

Robert Altman based the story of Three Women on a dream he had, ... and the film, the central theme of which is psychological dependency, retains certain elements of dreamlike elusiveness. ... The ... More »

QUINTET

First, a peek at the initial events of the film. The seal he hunts now being extinct, Essex is persuaded by his girl. Vivia. to return to the city he left ten years ago with the Earth paralyzed by a ... More »

KANSAS CITY

... ... In his new film Robert Altman introduces his old home town and trademark touches including the complex inter-relationship between different lives (and plot lines) and his masterly ear for ... More »

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