Week Eleven: The Player (1992)

Title: The Player

Tone: Biting meta-satire. Burn Hollywood burn!

Who:

Director-Robert Altman

Cast- Tim Robbins, Peter Gallagher, Greta Scacchi, Whoopi Goldberg

When: 1992

What: Hollywood studio executive Griffin Mill, in charge of approving or rejecting screenplays to be produced, begins receiving death threats from a disgruntled writer whose pitch was rejected.

Why:

  • Following along with this month’s films-about-films theme, Robert Altman’s Hollywood meta-satire The Player is a gloriously cynical portrayal of the Hollywood film industry by a director who loathed the studio system.
  • Altman is one of cinema’s most prominent auteurs. His distinctly naturalistic style, constantly roving camera, large ensemble casts, and penchant for encouraging actors to improv make for some of the most refreshingly unique films in cinema.
  • The Player‘s self-aware, unbroken, eight minute opening tracking shot is one of the best opening sequences I’ve seen. Altman decided to do the intro as one long unbroken shot simply to make an opening tracking shot that lasted longer than Orson Welles’ opening sequence for Touch of Evil. Furthermore, The Player‘s opening sequence features characters discussing great tracking shots from various films, most notably Touch of Evil.

(Check out the two openings here- Touch of Evil, The Player)

    • Altman was well-regarded as an actor’s-director, meaning he allowed actor’s to improvise and helm their characters rather than rigidly micro-manage their performances. This approach made Altman a very desirable director to work with as an actor. The Player features over fifty celebrity cameos throughout the film including, Bruce Willis, Jeff Goldblum, Julia Roberts, Angelica Huston, John Cusack, Burt Reynolds, Susan Sarandon, Jack Lemmon, and a whole lot more, all of whom worked for no pay, simply because they liked Robert Altman so much. Below is a decent trailer for The Player. Enjoy!
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    ~ by cinematte on March 13, 2011.

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