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A studio script screener gets on the bad side of a writer by not accepting his script. The writer is sending him threatening postcards. The screener tries to identify the writer in order to pay him off so he'll be left alone, and then in a case of mistaken identity gone awry, he accidentally gives the writer solid ammunition for blackmail. This plot is written on a backdrop of sleazy Hollywood deals and several subplots involving the politics of the industry. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
The best anti-Hollywood film ever made by Hollywood
Griffin Mill is a young hotshot producer who everyone bows and scrapes to because he has the powers to get a movie made. However he starts getting bugged by a dissatisfied writer which leads to all kinds of deadly intrigue.
Just when I thought Altman had gone totally off-the-boil he suddenly jumps back with his most perfectly realised film. While hardly unapplauded on its release (and in short retrospect) this is a movie that will be regarded by future generations as a classic. It is so smart, sassy, funny and has a beginning, a middle and an end. The kind of tragicomedy that gets the best of both worlds.
Robbins is perfect as the lead. He doesn't do much or emote much. As Robert De Niro once said "most people don't show their emotions, they hide them." Occasionally we get behind the shield of human indifference, but only occasionally. We don't like him much - nor should we - but he is not so bad that we can't bare him. Indeed he is merely someone whose selfish world gets out of control. Whoopie Goldberg makes the most of her unlikely casting too.
The appearance of stars in guest parts adds a bit of icing, but that is all. I loved Altman's directions to the stars who had to play walk-ons (who else could have got that?) "remember, you are responsible for who you are on screen. You are playing yourselves!"
The sexy Scacchi plays the love interest with great skill. While just a muse she is a far better actress than most and this shows in her short screen time. Shame she hasn't more involvement in the main plot.
Like breaking a car down in to its competent parts, taking The Player apart only leaves an ugly mess of oil and metal. Together it drives a tight little film that has insight, drama and comedy. I would hesitate to call this a masterpiece, but it is a mini-masterpiece that however farfetched never reaches the point of being totally unbelievable.
The pay off at the end is one of the best belly-laughs any film buff could ever get. I doubt I will see a better film about modern day Hollywood in my lifetime. Like Pulp Fiction, a film that is as enjoyable the second time of viewing as the first.
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