It’s 2 AM and you awake with a jerk, alone in your fully-lit apartment and still on the couch. On TV, the credits of some movie you’ve already seen a billion times are scrolling by. It feels like rock bottom. And we know, because we’re just like you: single.
Need a movie to keep you company until you literally can’t keep your eyes open? Join us tonight when we pass out to The Player [starting @ 11 p.m. on IFC]
Why we’ll try to stay up and watch it: Every single time we see The Player, we are reminded at how amazingly good it is. Watching Robert Altman’s epic Hollywood satire is like meeting a friend you rarely see for a drink. When the evening is over, you invariably find yourself saying, “Damn, we should hang out more!” Robert Altman’s The Player is that friend. Whenever we watch it, we always end up thinking it should rank higher on our personal list of favorite movies.
This is truly great stuff: sharply written, darkly funny and expertly performed. From the opening eight minute tracking shot, with Buck Henry pitching The Graduate: Part 2 (“it’ll be funny; dark and weird and funny and with a stroke.”), to the twisted Hollywood ending, this is an ode to movies like we’ve never witnessed.
Tim Robbins holds the film together, adeptly playing the stringy anti-hero of moral question that he’s done so many other times since. But it’s the rest of the cast we love, especially Peter Gallagher as an over-eager studio rival to Mr. Robbins, and Richard E. Grant as an uncompromisingly artistic screenwriter who ends up compromising everything for box office gold. As the film’s fictional studio says, “Movies, now more than ever!”
When we’ll probably fall asleep: Ideally we’d like to stay up until the perfect ending, but that won’t occur until after 1 a.m. and we have work tomorrow! So we’ll probably make it through the hilarious pitch that Mr. Grant’s character gives about 75 minutes into the film at 12:15 a.m. The story, about a D.A. who falls in love with the woman he sends to the gas chamber (“Habeas Corpus“), is arch, awful and completely believable as an actual Hollywood film. In fact, it was so believable that a similar movie starring Sharon Stone called Last Dance was released only five years later.