Double Take would like to pitch The Player in 25 words or less, but it took us a little longer to break this one down. So hear us out -- and don't give us water in a red wine glass.
The Hollywood satire in The Player was most sharply observed by those who worked for and with the big studio system, so in some ways it seems like a movie, with all its insider talk and meta-narratives, that was made not just about the industry but for the industry.
Steve Leftridge: I’ll lead off by suggesting that The Player might not be the ideal Robert Altman film by which to discuss the director, but that’s the nature of the Big Randomizer that picks these titles for us. I saw this film when it was first released in 1992, but not until it had already been established as marking Robert Altman’s big career resurgence and was lined up for awards on both sides of the Atlantic. I can’t quite remember how I made sense of The Player at the time as a film on its own terms or how I considered it within the context and style of the classic films that Altman had already made. But re-watching the film this week, with the benefit of knowing where Altman went from here, I can place it in a more complete context. Plus, I had forgotten so much of it, I was evaluating it anew as a free-standing piece of work. I have a lot of questions for you, Steve, but let me start by asking you those I just introduced: Revisiting The Player for this project, how do you feel it works as a film, regardless of who directed it, and how does knowing that it’s an Altman film inform your understanding or appreciation of it?