Combustible Celluloid
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With: Anjelica Huston, John Cusack, Annette Bening, Jan Munroe, Robert Weems, J.T. Walsh, Stephen Tobolowsky, Pat Hingle, Jeremy Piven, Charles Napier, Juliet Landau, Martin Landau (narrator)
Written by: Donald E. Westlake, based on a novel by Jim Thompson
Directed by: Stephen Frears
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 119
Date: 14/09/1990

The Grifters (1990)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Two-Bit Players

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

John Cusack stars as a slick swindler in this quirky, absorbing adaptation of Jim Thompson's pulp novel. Happy with small-time grifts, he finds himself stuck in-between his girlfriend (Annette Bening), who wants him to go big time, and his mother (Anjelica Huston) who wants him to get out. Stephen Frears directs, adding a kind of prickly humor to go with all the vindictiveness and brutality, while Martin Scorsese produces and provides a bit of narration. Mystery novelist Donald E. Westlake wrote the superb screenplay. Bening, Huston, Frears, and Westlake all received Oscar nominations. Miramax's DVD release contains an all-star commentary track and two documentaries, one on the making of the film, and the other on Thompson.

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