A Hollywood studio executive receives death
threats from a writer whose script he rejected.
The Player (1992)
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Michael Tolkin
Starring Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi, Fred Ward, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Gallagher, Brion James, Cynthia Stevenson
Based on the novel by Michael Tolkin
Oscar Nominations - Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay,
Best Film Editing
The Player was written by Michael Tolkin and based on his own novel of the same name from 1988. The dialogue is masterful to the point where I feel like I should read the book. Robert Altman already had a wildly impressive career pre-The Player, but you can see his and Tolkin’s disdain for the big Hollywood game. I love it when films are made about the art of filmmaking or the folks who pull the financial strings to get the films done. Those people can be nice or not so nice and with The Player, everyone is the latter.
Griffin Mill is the Vice President of a Hollywood movie studio and mainly in charge of listening to people pitch their ideas for a script. His high position gets threatened when the new up and coming executive, Larry Levy comes onto the scene with lofty expectations. Mill can’t stand Levy, but the studio sees him as a sort of saving grace and this angers Mill. His mind immediately starts thinking about how to stay on top. Mill also receives a threatening postcard in the mail from a screenwriter he rejected in the past which should distract him from staying on top but it actually fires him up even more to act hastily and selfishly.
Tim Robbins was unstoppable in the 90’s and his work as Griffin Mill could make a case to be his best performance ever. He’s on the screen pretty much the entire time, but the actors who pop up around him make up a pretty crazy cameo list. Vincent D’Onofrio isn’t on the screen much but holy shit it’s a hell of a heat check performance that rivals his best roles. Robert Altman directed the hell out of The Player, which is undoubtedly one of the best films about films I’ve been able to see.