The Player is a hard one for me. I wasn't insanely interested in the film as it played and I have a feeling I missed 90% of the references and cameos. While I could say, "hey, that guy was maybe probably in a movie I've never seen" a lot, I couldn't name a lot of names or connect people with memories of having seen that film or that personal/public life hijink. And that maybe probably aspect got old after half an hour. The only way I can effectively describe this is to be a little hyperbolic. The faux film within the film offered the most recognizable cameos for me. Imagine watching the whole film and only recognizing Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, and Bruce Willis. That was basically my experience. Again, that's hyperbolic because I do recognize Tim Robbins, John Cusack, Angelica Huston, Cher, and a few others but given the slew of once famous people in the film, recognizing only a hand full is an absurdly small amount.
For more perspective, I've only ever seen two of Tim Robbins' films made before this one came out in 1992--Top Gun and Bull Durham--and I can absolutely guarantee you that I saw neither of those films before 1992. Any of those actors I know for things that came out LONG after this film. Why? Because I was 12 when this film came out in April of 1992 and early 1990s movies weren't one of my focuses when I decided to watch "old" movies.
For most movies, that wouldn't be a problem. We've obviously watched more movies made before I was born during this project than movies I would legally be able to watch in theater. But, the whole point of this movie is that it's a satiric insider's look at Hollywood and to watch the film effectively you have to get the cameos and one-liners that compose the film's insider quality. If you don't get those, the film is really long and drawn out.
But I also don't want to dismiss it altogether. It is an interesting and somewhat truthful look at how Hollywood works even now, so in that way it's entirely relevant almost 20 years later. It's also an really wonderful look at how reality and story can become seamlessly intertwined. But these two aspects also depend heavily on the cameo/one-liner aspect of the film for the actual satire. It's not as amusing or satiric a film if all of these famous people didn't play along and offer a send up of themselves. The trouble there is that the film then only truly lives for a certain group of people who either saw the film in 1992 or are really acquainted with those actors. Otherwise, most of the audience is actually more familiar with Vincent D'Onofrio (because of Law & Order) than Tim Robbins or any other actor in the film and that really lessens the impact and scathing commentary.
But, why did we have to watch this before we die? I'm betting the author of 1001 saw this film in 1992 and knows all of the inside jokes. But, the book also ponders, "how the cream of Hollywood's stars--from Jack Lemmon to Julia Roberts--ever agreed to be part of this supreme exercise in subversive mischief." First, I can't place where Jack Lemon is in the film. But, second, because Hollywood loves absolutely NOTHING more than a movie about Hollywood.
Further, I'd argue that the book has a hard on for Altman: six of his films are on the list. M*A*SH, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, Nashville, and Short Cuts round of the six. What? No Dr. T and the Women?
Oh! I also, of course, recognize Lyle Lovett. Which just made me think of this video (which is actually more connected to this post than you'd think because Lovett and Envagelista were both in Pret-a-Porter, another Altman film).
Brainmate? I know you'd seen this one before and are probably more familiar with most of these actors than I am; did it hold up for you?