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The Player: New Line Platinum Series

Review Written by: Will Penley
Film: A-
Video/Audio/Extras: A-/A-/B

Directed by: Robert Altman
Written by: Michael Tolkin
Based on the book by: Michael Tolkin
Produced by: Michael Tolkin, David Brown and Nick Wechsler
Starring: Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi, Whoopi Goldberg, Fred Ward, Peter Gallaghar, Brion James, Cynthia Stevenson
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it

"Hey, you're Martin Scorsese!"
"No, but I know Harvey Keitel."
"Of course you do! Hey, I loved Cape Fear!"

Robert Altman has always been known for making films with ensemble casts in which all the characters intersect with each other at some point. The Player is a darkly funny comedy with a fantastically written Oscar-nominated screenplay from Michael Tolkin who also wrote the novel. Loaded with laughs and celebrity cameos, The Player is a film that film buffs should be ecstatic for.

Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) is a major studio executive in Hollywood. His job is shaky at this time, and he could find himself replaced any day. Making matters worse, he begins to receive threatening postcards from an anonymous screenwriter whose script he rejected months before. Determined to get to the bottom of this, Griffin is driven to kill, but he may have rubbed out the wrong writer! Along with falling for the dead man's girlfriend June Gudmundsdottir (Greta Scacchi) and being obstinately hounded by sharp-witted detective Susan Avery (Whoopi Goldberg), Griffin finds himself in quite a pickle as the threats begin again and this time they're even more dangerous.

A film buff myself, I found this film to be a blast. There are dozens of references to other films such as Rope and The Graduate and some of the cameos in the film, namely one by Bruce Willis, are a real treat. Hats off to the writer for constantly adding criticism of "Hollywood endings" into the screenplay. An "A" for the film. The anamorphic widescreen video is very good on this DVD, though the image does appear a bit soft at times. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track serves the film well with all of Michael Tolkin's great dialogue very clear. An "A-" for video and audio.

This is a two-sided DVD with the bonus material spread across the two sides. The disc's extras open up with an audio commentary by Altman and Tolkin. This is a fantastic commentary track with loads of information on the production of the film. The remainder of the extras on side one are some cast and crew biographies and a menu called "The Cameo Players," in which you can jump to any scene with an actor cameo. The extras on side two consist of an extensive interview with Robert Altman, five deleted scenes and the film's original theatrical trailer.

This is a very nice DVD package from New Line and I highly recommend it for all the film buffs reading.

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