812 The Player

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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swo17
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812 The Player

#1 Post by swo17 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:18 pm

The Player

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A Hollywood studio executive with a shaky moral compass (Tim Robbins) finds himself caught up in a criminal situation that would fit right into one of his movie projects, in this biting industry satire from Robert Altman. Mixing elements of film noir with sly insider comedy, The Player, based on a novel by Michael Tolkin, functions as both a nifty stylish murder story and a commentary on its own making, and it is stocked with a heroic supporting cast (Peter Gallagher, Whoopi Goldberg, Greta Scacchi, Dean Stockwell, Fred Ward) and an astonishing lineup of star cameos that make for a remarkable Hollywood who's who. This complexly woven grand entertainment (which kicks off with one of American cinema's most audacious and acclaimed opening shots) was the film that marked Altman's triumphant commercial comeback in the early 1990s.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration, with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 surround soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary from 1992 featuring director Robert Altman, writer Michael Tolkin, and cinematographer Jean Lépine
• Interview with Altman from 1992
• New interviews with Tolkin and production designer Stephen Altman
• Cannes Film Festival press conference from 1992 with cast and crew
"The Player" at LACMA, a short documentary about the shooting of the film's fund-raiser scene
Map to the Stars, a gallery dedicated to the cameo appearances in the film
• Deleted scenes and outtakes
• The film's opening shot, with alternate commentaries by Altman, Lépine, and Tolkin
• Trailers
• More
• PLUS: An essay by author Sam Wasson

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domino harvey
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Re: 812 The Player

#2 Post by domino harvey » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:33 pm

Why did Criterion use one of their Warner chits for this if all they're going to add to the existing Blu-Ray are a few scraps?

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Ribs
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Re: 812 The Player

#3 Post by Ribs » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:37 pm

I, for one, am DELIGHTED to be in the position to have Criterion putting out Warner stuff about once a month, regardless. A bit of a shame its something they've already put out but the current disc is OOP and going by the internet really terrible so this should still be a substantial upgrade regardless.

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Re: 812 The Player

#4 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:39 pm

domino harvey wrote:Why did Criterion use one of their Warner chits for this if all they're going to add to the existing Blu-Ray are a few scraps?
Maybe because of this?

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dwk
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Re: 812 The Player

#5 Post by dwk » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:40 pm

It does say "More" in the specs, so hopefully it is something worthwhile, but most importantly
New 4K digital restoration, with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 surround soundtrack on the Blu-ray

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PfR73
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Re: 812 The Player

#6 Post by PfR73 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:48 pm

And it's a different commentary track. This is the one from the Criterion laserdisc, whereas Warner used their own commentary that didn't include Lapine.

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Re: 812 The Player

#7 Post by cdnchris » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:52 pm

The Warner Blu-ray doesn't look terribly good so a new 4K restoration is welcome.

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Luke M
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Re: 812 The Player

#8 Post by Luke M » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:57 pm

Isn't The Player out of print precisely because Criterion planned to release it?

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Re: 812 The Player

#9 Post by kristophers » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:05 pm

cdnchris wrote:The Warner Blu-ray doesn't look terribly good so a new 4K restoration is welcome.

I definitely agree, it was lackluster even if this is a somewhat soft film. This is a surprising announcement (for me at least, heard no rumours), but more than welcome.

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Re: 812 The Player

#10 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:20 pm

Didn't the laserdisc have interviews with several screenwriters? That doesn't seem to be on here, unless that's the "More" we're expecting.

I still have the snapper-case two-sided DVD. Think I'll keep that once I get the Blu-ray and put it in the new case.

Short Cuts has got to be coming sometime down the line then.

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Re: 812 The Player

#11 Post by oh yeah » Tue Feb 16, 2016 9:36 pm

Like another poster said, surprising but definitely welcome. I'm a pretty big Altman fan yet somehow this one didn't impress me at all on first viewing a while back -- it seemed like a big self-congratulatory Hollywood jerk-off, and a very limp "satire." Which is basically what Rosenbaum criticized the film for upon release. But on revisiting it last year I found it pretty superb, probably one of Altman's better films if not one of his absolute best. Just effortlessly entertaining and also imbued with a surprising suspense and menacing noir atmosphere that's not undercut by the general deflationary tone as it often is with Altman. Newman's score is somehow great too, suggesting that menacing air underneath its cheery New Age-isms. I still think its Hollywood "satire" is weak at best, but as another Altman spin on genre it remains fascinating and one of his more visually impressive films (and I'm not even thinking of the first shot here).

Kind of a minor film compared to the behemoth that is Short Cuts, though, then again the same is true of most movies.

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Trees
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Re: 812 The Player

#12 Post by Trees » Wed Feb 17, 2016 2:36 am

I've never seen this film, so I'm looking forward to it.

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Re: 812 The Player

#13 Post by Numero Trois » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:04 am

oh yeah wrote: -- it seemed like a big self-congratulatory Hollywood jerk-off, and a very limp "satire."
That was exactly my feeling for both this and Short Cuts way back in the day. At least back then both struck me as being thoroughly self-satisfied to the point of smugness. I've never had that reaction to any other Altman project. Definetly way overdue for a revisit.

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domino harvey
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Re: 812 The Player

#14 Post by domino harvey » Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:43 pm

Smug is the right word for it. Just an insufferable and insulting film, up there with the Carpetbaggers as one of the worst films ever made on Hollywood. No idea why the cachet for this one is so inflated here and elsewhere. Criterion should have released the Critic on Blu-ray instead

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whaleallright
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Re: 812 The Player

#15 Post by whaleallright » Wed Feb 17, 2016 2:40 pm

The charge of smugness or glibness has been leveled against Altman since (at least) the mid-1970s; see e.g. Robin Wood's "Smart-Ass and Cutie-Pie." I think the shoe fits, and this only became more evident once he took control of his career again in the early 1990s.

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Re: 812 The Player

#16 Post by kristophers » Wed Feb 17, 2016 2:52 pm

domino harvey wrote:Smug is the right word for it. Just an insufferable and insulting film, up there with the Carpetbaggers as one of the worst films ever made on Hollywood. No idea why the cachet for this one is so inflated here and elsewhere. Criterion should have released the Critic on Blu-ray instead
SpoilerShow
The first time I saw this one, things like the murder of the screenwriter, the snake, etc. came across ham-fisted.
I've really come around to it over the years though, and while I understand what you're saying re: Hollywood I think the technicalities of the film-making on display here elevate it far from any "worst film ever made" category.

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Re: 812 The Player

#17 Post by oh yeah » Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:04 pm

Re: Altman's smugness, it is a recurring trait/problem, but I find it most concentrated in his earlier works: I find later films like Short Cuts, Cookie's Fortune, A Prairie Home Companion, and especially The Company to have an almost nonjudgmental, kind of minimalist calm, as if Altman's just happily observing these people go about their business. The snark and the satire is very much toned down, and replaced by a tone of lifelike ambiguity; even Short Cuts I find a very opaque, open-ended, democratic and compassionate film, especially compared to the more glibly cynical humor of Nashville, let alone MASH. And I don't find an ounce of smugness at all within 3 Women, undoubtedly Altman's finest and most affecting work. But yes, a smug quality is certainly found in MASH, The Player, O.C. & Stiggs, Thieves Like Us, A Wedding, and Ready to Wear, among others.

Anyway -- it's hard to articulate, but I think there's something very dark about The Player which sets it apart for me. Not only "dark" like most Altman in terms of a cynical view of humanity, but in having this really uneasy atmosphere to it.
SpoilerShow
To me the point at the end of the movie isn't so much that the film-within is hilariously awful and that "real art" loses over commercial pap, but that Mill gets away unscathed, with triumphant music ushering his arrival home to the wife of the man he killed. Talk about the banality of evil -- it's a tired sentiment, but it's very well-expressed in this film in a roundabout way. And all this isn't biting because it's a Hollywood exec being depicted; it could be anyone and would still be disturbing. But Robbin's portrayal of Mill is interesting because he nicely straddles the line between being a clueless man sleepwalking through life and being a total manipulative asshole; you get the impression that his crimes are more out of convenience, coincidence and accident, and his covering up of them is solely to maintain his cushy lifestyle. He's a more nuanced character than Robbins' one-note power-hungry cop in Short Cuts, for example (one of the few weak links of that film for me).
It's just an unsettling and menacing film which seems even more menacing for placing itself within the glib, vapid, "fun" self-congratulatory atmosphere of Hollywood. Altman's made several better films, including a few outright masterworks, but I really find The Player a unique work. I used to agree totally with domino and the rest of you guys but, I dunno, that last viewing just changed it for me. Now, MASH, there's a highly-acclaimed Altman film that I find absolutely near-charmless and among his worst. There's also a ton of middle-tier Altman flicks which are good and may be some kind of undiscovered (by me) masterpiece, but would need another viewing to find out.

Actually, you know, I think that one of the reasons why I like this film is that it's a rare example of Altman almost completely making a typical one-protagonist film. There's a big ensemble cast, but the focus is almost exclusively on Griffin Mill. This, combined with the more disciplined noir narrative trappings, makes for a very interesting flick when combined with the usual cannabinated Altman tics.

Edit: OK, so this has nothing to do with anything really, but isn't De Palma's Bonfire of the Vanities kind of like someone trying to make a really bad Altman film on purpose, and succeeding? It feels that way to me.

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Re: 812 The Player

#18 Post by djproject » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:50 am

Actually it's a bit humourous (now and in hindsight) that a film rejoins the Collection that itself perpetuates a common mistranslation of another Collection title =]

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Re: 812 The Player

#19 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Apr 28, 2016 5:26 pm


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Randall Maysin
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Re: 812 The Player

#20 Post by Randall Maysin » Thu Apr 28, 2016 5:35 pm

Why does it still say "More!" even though there is now a review of the disc? It even says "More" in the review, without explaining what the "More" is.

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Re: 812 The Player

#21 Post by perkizitore » Thu Apr 28, 2016 5:38 pm

Obviously More by Barbet Schroeder is included as extra!

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Minkin
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Re: 812 The Player

#22 Post by Minkin » Thu Apr 28, 2016 5:45 pm

FrauBlucher wrote:Beaver
Criterion still hasn't updated their website to explain what the "more" is (same with the Road Trilogy). I had thought that the first review would finally reveal what it was, but Tooze, rather hilariously, includes the "more" in his list of supplements (which are different than the website, so idk where he copy +pasted that list from).

The only thing different that I can see is that:
"New interviews with Tolkin and production designer Stephen Altman"

has turned into:
"Planned Improvisation: new interviews with Tolkin, actor Tim Robbins, associate producer David Levy, and production designer Stephen Altman"

Edit: or the jokes made by the above

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Drucker
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Re: 812 The Player

#23 Post by Drucker » Fri Apr 29, 2016 10:14 am

The color of every suit has changed!

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Minkin
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Re: 812 The Player

#24 Post by Minkin » Mon May 09, 2016 1:01 am

Blu-ray.com review

Based on that review + the photo of the back taken by Chris, I declare that the "more" turned out to only be "New interviews.... with actor Tim Robbins and associate producer David Levy" - which all four interviews are combined into a 46 minute documentary called "Planned Improvisation."

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Re: 812 The Player

#25 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:55 pm

The extras here are excellent. I admire the film even though it's not among my favorite Altmans, but I've got to say the supplements increased my admiration at least two- or threefold. The commentary is especially good, and the press conference is both fun and informative.

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