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Wayne's Recommendations of the Week

The Grifters

If this film isn't on the top of your list, it should be. Starring heavy-hitters like Annette Benning, John Cusack, and Anjelica Huston... it's a goldmine.

What to watch for:

The movement of the ladies. Annette Benning is practically mesmerizing in her movements, but you wouldn't know it (unless you're watching with your actor-brain) because it's so simple and natural. The movement is neither forced and exaggerated, nor the too-casual slump of most modern everyday postures.

And Anjelica Huston hardly moves at all, but comes across as incredibly sexual and calculating.


It is a bold recreation (courtesy of HBO) of some very horrific events. Down to the physical symptoms of the nuclear radiation poisoning. What's interesting about this show is the choice to focus on subject matter that's almost academic. The sinking sensation of horror almost comes more from the terrible political choices made around this crisis, than from the gruesome physical ailments themselves.

The critical reception of this show might determine if this kind of show sets off a trend. After all, it lives in a world between an educational documentary and a glamorous Hollywood historical fiction "reimagining." It is too specific to be the latter, and too emotionally personal to be the former. But perhaps that is its strength. Miniseries like this one may make audiences feel they know what it was to go through this ordeal. Compare that to the emotional response students have when they read about such events in history class. We may be more likely to remember and learn from history if we feel it is personal, and visceral.

It certainly appears as though one intent of this show is to share a strong message about the ability of political maneuvering to turn into real life-or-death consequences for the everyman. It attempts to do so using the power of our connection to film and television. At its best, this could result in a real cultural impact. At its worst, it's another cash grab using shared historical tragedy. Actors, go decide for yourselves.


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