To the editors:
Thank you for not jumping on the bandwagon for The Player [May 1]. The whole film is Altman and Tolkin giving the Tim Robbins character the finger and Robbins giving it back. A satire is supposed to attack or expose, not coddle the status quo. The Player is merely a flabby foile a deux. (Julia Roberts's appearance is particularly apt: this is a movie about really "sleeping with the enemy.")
Thanks also for the comparison between Mark Rydell in The Long Goodbye and Whoopi Goldberg in The Player. Although ostensibly a gangster, Rydell's character could also be construed as a takeoff on actual Hollywood film executives and/or agents, a man who "pitches" his own ruthlessness to Elliott Gould's Marlowe. In fact, the subtext of that film is a satirical kiss-off to Old Hollywood--a bit glib, perhaps, but with the exhilarating spontaneity of Altman at his best, a spontaneity notably lacking in The Player.
Keep up the good work. And keep on the lookout for shallow criticism that continues to neglect balancing objectivity with subjectivity.
Bill Dal Cerro
PS: Is The Long Goodbye scheduled to come out on video anytime soon? Also, now that Orson Welles's Othello has returned, is it possible for someone to get to work on his equally good Chimes at Midnight?
Jonathan Rosenbaum replies:
I've been told that The Long Goodbye is already available on video and laserdisc in letterboxed formats, though the video version apparently doesn't circulate very widely. I've also heard that a restoration (or "restoration") of Welles's Chimes at Midnight may be undertaken in the future; if so, let's hope that this time the original sound track is left intact.