Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.

 

Articles by Susan Granger

 

TONI ERDMANN — Review by Susan Granger

Going into the Oscar Foreign Language race as an overwhelming favorite, German filmmaker Maren Ade’s poignant comedic-drama revolves around a practical-joking father who tries to reconnect with his uptight daughter by creating an outrageous alter-ego. Within that context, Ade satirically tackles feminism, workplace sexism, international capitalism, and German arrogance within the European Union.
After his beloved dog dies, divorced, middle-aged music teacher Winifred Conradi (Peter Simonischek) feels totally lost. So he tries to reconnect with his only child – daughter Ines (Sandra Huller) – who is obsessive about her executive consulting work in Romania. Read on…

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THE COMEDIAN — Review by Susan Granger

Back in 1983, Robert De Niro played a sociopathic wannabe celebrity in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” starring Jerry Lewis. Obviously, the delusional character intrigued De Niro because in “The Comedian,” he’s a former TV sit-com star, Jackie Burke. Aging Burke has hit hard times, unable to move beyond nostalgic references to “Eddie’s Home.” One night when an obnoxious heckler with a web-cam taunts him at a comedy club in Hicksville, Long Island, he clobbers the guy in a scuffle that winds up on YouTube. Read on…

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GOLD — Review by Susan Granger

As a critic, I’m often asked, “Do you really stay ‘till the end of a movie, even if you know it’s not very good?” The answer is “Yes,” because you never can tell what surprises may surface – and that certainly applies to this twisted tale, chronicling the effects of greed and friendship. In 1988, paunchy, whiskey-guzzling Kenny Wells (almost unrecognizably balding Matthew McConaughey) inherited his family’s once-profitable Washoe Mining Corporation in Reno, Nevada. Read on…

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SPLIT — Review by Susan Granger

M. Night Shyamalan burst onto the cinematic scene with audacious plot twists in The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. But The Lady in the Water, The Village, The Happening, The Last Airbender, After Earth and The Visit were subsequent disappointments. Now he’s back with a vengeance, infusing a horrifying abduction story with preposterous pop psychology and a last act that links up with one of his earlier films. No spoiler here. That’s tantalizing enough. Read on…

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20th CENTURY WOMEN — Review by Susan Granger

Set in 1979, writer/director Mike Mills weaves an intriguing tale about Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening), a chain-smoking, single mom who enlists the help of family and friends in nurturing her rebellious 15 year-old son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), as he struggles to find his identity while growing into manhood. They live in a large, old house in Santa Barbara, California, with a couple of boarders: punk photographer Abby (Greta Gerwig), a free-spirited feminist recovering from cervical cancer, and William (Billy Crudup), an earthy carpenter/handyman who’s helping Dorothea renovate the ramshackle Victorian place. Read on…

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LOVING — Review by Susan Granger

Writer/director Jeff Nichols solemnly tackles one of the most influential Civil Rights cases of the late 1960s. It’s the story if Richard and Mildred Loving. When his girlfriend Mildred (Ruth Negga) told bricklayer Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) that she was pregnant, he insisted on driving from rural Virginia to Washington, D.C. so they could get married. Read on…

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RULES DON’T APPLY – Review by Susan Granger

Watching this reminded me of when Elizabeth Taylor died. As I was chatting with another critic at a Manhattan screening, the twentysomething publicist asked, “Who’s Elizabeth Taylor?” After years of gestation, Warren Beatty has created an absurdly nostalgic farce about aviation tycoon/film producer Howard Hughes. But do moviegoers remember either of them? Read on…

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JACKIE – Review by Susan Granger

Under the direction of gifted Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain, Natalie Portman creates a dazzling cinematic portrait of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Read on…

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LA LA LAND — Review by Susan Granger

Opening with a fabulous fantasy sequence of morning commuters caught in congested traffic on Los Angeles’ freeways, Damien Chazelle’s dazzling contemporary musical chronicles longing, love and lingering wistfulness. Aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) works as a barista at a café on the Warner Brothers’ studio lot, while brooding jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is tired of playing background music at bars and restaurants. They “meet cute” several times before they actually connect, tapping and twirling to “A Lovely Night.” Read on…

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MOANA – Review by Susan Granger

Gather the kids and let’s be thankful for Moana (pronounced Mo-ahna) – with songs co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton). On Motunui in Oceania, teenage Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) lived in an idyllic, self-sustaining Polynesian community. But, as daughter of Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison), she has been forbidden to travel beyond the barrier reef that surrounds their isolated island. When she discovers her ancestors’ sea-faring past, her ailing Gramma Tala (Rachel House) explains that she has been chosen by the ocean to control its waves. Read on…

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MANCHESTER BY THE SEA – Review by Susan Granger

“Guilt is a tireless horse. Grief ages into sorrow and sorrow is an enduring rider,” wrote Dean Koontz – a quote which perfectly describes the tone of Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. Even before this story begins, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) has suffered unimaginable tragedy. Now his beloved older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), a Cape Ann fisherman, has died, and Lee has been named guardian of Joe’s teenage son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Read on…

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ARRIVAL — Review by Susan Granger

Denis Villenueve’s “Arrival” is an exciting, provocative, intellectually stimulating sci-fi thriller! Combining the wonderment of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” while jettisoning the perception of linear time, it’s about Earth’s first contact with an alien civilization. When 12 mysterious spacecraft touch down around the globe, renowned linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is summoned by Col. Weber (Forest Whitaker) to try to decipher their intergalactic intentions. Read on…

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AMERICAN PASTORAL — Review by Susan Granger

Ewan McGregor has not been successful in adapting Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1997 novel, revolving around a father’s disillusionment with the American Dream when his daughter becomes a terrorist during the social and political turmoil of the late 1960s. But it’s not for lack of trying. Awkwardly bookended by novelist Nathan Zuckerman’s (David Strathairn) visit to his 45th high-school reunion, it’s the story of Seymour ‘Swede’ Levov (McGregor), a Jewish ‘golden boy’ and star athlete, who marries Dawn Dwyer (Jennifer Connelly), an Irish-Catholic beauty queen, and settles into a seemingly bucolic life on a farm in Old Rimrock, a WASPy western New Jersey township. Read on…

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THE HANDMAIDEN — Review by Susan Granger

Set in 1930s Korea, during the Japanese occupation, auteur Park Chan-wook’s romantic melodrama revolves around larcenous Sookee (Kim Tae-ri), an ambitious pickpocket recruited to help a con man, known as Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo), who is planning to seduce lovely, lonely Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) to obtain her large inheritance. This aristocratic Japanese heiress lives in a magnificent manor house, deep in the woods, with her tyrannical uncle Kouzuki (Cho Jin-woong), an avid collector of rare exotic books whose tongue has turned black from licking his ink brushes. Read on…

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INFERNO – Review by Susan Granger

Director Ron Howard and actor Tom Hanks have previously collaborated on The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Angels and Demons (2009). So what happened to their adaptation of Dan Brown’s thriller is a mystery. This time, renowned Harvard art historian/“symbologist” Robert Langdon (Hanks) gets mixed up with a villainous billionaire, Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), who is determined to reduce the world’s population by unleashing a sinister super-virus as an apocalyptic plague. But Langdon doesn’t know what’s happening when he awakens in Florence, Italy, in a hospital room. He has amnesia, plus a nasty cut on his head. At his side is Dr. Siena Brooks (Felicity Jones, whose two front teeth, unfortunately, resemble Chiclets). Read more…

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CERTAIN WOMEN — Review by Susan Granger

Kelly Reichardt is a feminist filmmaker, based in Portland, Oregon, known for her minimalism in “River of Grass,” “Old Joy,” “Meek’s Cutoff,” “Night Movies,” “Wendy and Lucy.” Adapting short stories by Maile Meloy, she has created a cinematic portrait of several disparate women set in desolate Livingston, Montana. Read on…

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KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES –Review by Susan Granger

Dying is easy. Comedy is difficult.” Just after Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher) pack their children off for summer camp, mysterious new neighbors move into a house in their secluded cul-de-sac in an Atlanta suburb. They’re Tim and Natalie Jones (Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot). He claims to be a travel writer, a master of many languages who blows glass for a hobby; she’s an Israeli social-media consultant, enmeshed in food blogging and charity work. Read on…

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OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL – Review by Susan Granger

I’ve always been fascinated by the Ouija Board. For the past century, this creepy board game, manufactured by Hasbro, has intrigued players around the world. Its popularity rose sharply after America’s Civil War, since families lost so many loved ones in battle, many of whom remained unidentified. Using the Ouija Board, grieving relatives often gathered in the parlor to consult the ‘spirits’ for reassurance. Read on…

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AMERICAN HONEY – Review by Susan Granger

British filmmaker Andrea Arnold finds cinematic inspiration in a group of young American drifters, those tattered, tattooed, often defiant, yet seemingly aimless teenagers that lurk around places like Walmart. One of them is abused, 18 year-old Star (Sasha Lane) who deposits her two younger half-siblings in the care of their disaffected mother before blasting out of Muskogee, Oklahoma, with a group of hard-partying rowdies who drift around in a white van, hustling questionable magazine subscriptions. Read on…

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WILD OATS – Review by Susan Granger

Eva (Shirley MacLaine) is a retired 10th grade social studies teacher who, when her husband dies, accidentally receives a $5 million check from his life insurance policy, instead of the $50,000 that she expected. Her first impulse is to return it, but then her best friend Maddie (Jessica Lange), whose husband has just left her for his young secretary, suggests that she endorse and deposit the check immediately so they travel to an exotic place and have some well-deserved fun. Read on…

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QUEEN OF KATWE – Review by Susan Granger

Based on a true story, this film chronicles how talented Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) from the poverty-stricken streets of Katwe, a township that’s south of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, became a world-class chess champion. Her journey begins when resilient nine year-old Phiona meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), who runs a sports outreach program of the local church’s youth ministry, teaching scrappy slum kids, struggling to survive, how to play chess – bribing them with a free cup of porridge. Read on…

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MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN — Review by Susan Granger

Adapting Ransom Riggs’ 2011 young-adult novel would seem like a perfect fit for the macabre imagination of eccentric filmmaker Tim Burton. Too bad he squanders this spine-tingling opportunity. When shy, teenage Jake Portman (bland Asa Butterfield) is summoned to his beloved grandfather’s tract home in suburban Florida, he realizes that the old man is dying, the victim of nefarious thugs. Read on…

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CLOWNTOWN – Review by Susan Granger

Extreme fear of clowns is so prevalent that there’s a word for it: “Coulrophobia.” That could be reason enough to avoid Tom Nagel’s cheapo horror film that revolves around a group of friends who get stranded in a seemingly abandoned town, only to discover that they’re being stalked by vicious psychopaths dressed as circus clowns. Read on…

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DEEPWATER HORIZON — Review by Susan Granger

When an explosion on April 10, 2010, ignited the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, the blowout lasted 87 days, leaking 4.9 million gallons into the Gulf, resulting in the worst ecological disaster in American history. Told through the perspective of Chief Electronics Technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), it begins normally, as he bids goodbye to his wife (Kate Hudson) and young daughter, hoping to snag a ‘dinosaur bone’ for her to show to her class in school. Read on…

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THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS — Review by Susan Granger

If you’re in the mood for an old-fashioned, historical melodrama, this should be your choice. Returning from W.W. I in 1919, embittered Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) takes a job manning a lighthouse on an isolated, windswept island called Janus, off the coast of Western Australia. A taciturn fellow of few words, he wants to escape from the carnage of civilization and be left in solitude. Read on…

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