Axe Grinding Hollywood Style
Hollywood executive Griffin Mill's (Tim Robbins) job is non stop as where ever he goes someone is trying to pitch him their idea for a movie and whilst he can reject them he can only pass those he likes on to the next stage. It is why he has been receiving death threats in the mail as someone he turned down and didn't call back is less than happy. On top of this he has to contend with the shallow industry where rumours abound about his position under threat. But things really start to go bad when Griffin confronts and kind of accidentally kills David Kahane (Vincent D'Onofrio), the writer he suspects is behind all the death threats it leads to Griffin being the focus of Detective Avery's (Whoopi Goldberg) investigations whilst he also finds himself getting involved with David's girlfriend.
Two for the price of one should say good value but it isn't always the case. That is the case with Robert Altman's Hollywood Satire "The Player" as this is two movies shoe horned together and whilst they merge they don't do so as well as they could. But you see "The Player" is a Robert Altman movie and one which weaves in various characters and storylines as well as featuring countless cameos and there are many who loved this style which Altman delivered and in my opinion maybe got caught up in the fact that Altman had returned to where he was best after many years in the wilderness.
Now let me put this in to context as on one hand we have quite a typical storyline about a guy under pressure who kills someone and his life really spirals out of control with a sense of paranoia building the whole time. And it is entertaining but flawed with the usual issues which Hollywood movies have. But then alongside this with it being based on Hollywood we have Altman's swipe at the dirty, shallow industry which Hollywood is and we are suppose to be amused by how it is full of conceited people who smile and shake hands, promise to talk but never do. The trouble is for me the two don't work that well together and at times it feels like Altman got distracted by the axe he was grinding when it came to the way Hollywood had treated him.
There is though another issue with "The Player" and it is who it is made for. As a movie fan the swipes at Hollywood kind of work as I can pick up on many of the references and the amusing snippets of dialogue but do they work for say someone who watches a movie once a week. In a way "The Player" is too clever for its own good and alienates an audience who don't have an insight into how the industry works and may not recognize the various actors who appear in cameos which is a big part of the movies in Hollywood appeal.
What this all boils down to is that I can sort of understand why "The Player" is popular because it appeals to an audience who like the perceived cleverness of it all with its multi layered style and interweaving characters. But not only does it border one being to clever for its own good that it ends up doing the sort of things it is mocking.