I was all over The Player in early 1992 and pushing it like mad with my editors at Entertainment Weekly. It took at least a couple of weeks after I first caught an early-bird screening in…what was it, mid-February?…before EW‘s “News & Notes” section deigned to run a small descriptive paragraph with an enthusiastic quote or two. My opinion (i.e., that it was a hilariously dry and biting satire that had an uncut, beautifully choreographed extended opening sequence and that it would catch on big-time and that Altman had made perhaps the biggest commercial hit of his career) wasn’t notable or newsworthy, of course. I had to find some non-vested types whose reputation mattered, and whose opinion therefore had weight. I knew and could say, in short, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t be heard because I was a freelance reporter and not a hotshot critic. Even if I was a critic I couldn’t have said anything because it was way too early in the cycle.
For various bureaucratic and political reasons it basically took a whole lot longer for incisive or knowledgable word-of-mouth to circulate back then. Now it’s instantaneous, of course. It’s strange to recall how things worked 20 years ago. A much slower and less responsive machine, and about eighteen times more political. Which wasn’t good for me. I was always frustrated and often miserable, but at the same time it was demanding and thrilling and oddly enjoyable during the high spurts.