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

 

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS — Review by Susan Granger

The numbers tell the tale: the eighth installment of this long-running series revved up an estimated $532.5 million worldwide, setting a new record for an opening weekend. Build around muscle cars, drag racing and the importance of family, this high-speed action thriller brings back Vin Diesel as gruff, monosyllabic Dominic Toretto, and it’s filled with spectacular, globe-spanning vehicular destruction. Continue reading…

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THE PROMISE — Review by Susan Granger

Because of strong ties with the Turkish government, American presidents have never acknowledged the Ottoman Empire’s systematic annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1918 as “genocide.” So this sprawling, historical epic begins in 1914 as Mikael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac), an ambitious, young apothecary in Siroun, a small southern Turkish village, is betrothed a local girl so he can use her dowry to attend medical school in Constantinople, promising to marry her once he’s a doctor. Continue reading…

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GHOST IN THE SHELL — Review by Susan Granger

If you’re into the latest whiz-bang technology, this dystopian sci-fi thriller is a live-action remake of Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 cyberpunk anime, based on Masamune Shirow’s popular 1989 manga series. Its publicity campaign has focused on Scarlett Johansson’s appearing to be ‘almost’ naked, dashing around a futuristic cityscape in a flesh-colored, skin-tight casing; she’s a cyborg law-enforcement officer known as the Major. The gimmick is that when she dons this “thermoptic” suit, she is basically invisible. Continue reading

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GIFTED — Review by Susan Granger

If you’re searching for a fascinating, feel-good, family film with a provocative premise, choose “Gifted.” Seven year-old Mary Adler (Mckenna Grace), a child prodigy, lives happily in a coastal Florida trailer park with Uncle Frank (Chris Evans) and her one-eyed cat named Fred. But now it’s time for her to go to a real school and, hopefully, make some friends her own age. Continue reading…

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GOING IN STYLE — Review by Susan Granger

Bill Gates once said, “Banking is necessary, banks are not.” Which may be why bankers and banks have become popular cinematic villains. Like the hapless brothers in last year’s “Hell or High Water,” three Brooklyn-based seniors suddenly realize that – because of a nefarious local bank – they’re going to be broke and homeless. Joe (Michael Caine) comes up with the idea of an armed robbery after conferring with a sleazy Williamsburg Savings Bank manager (Josh Pais) about his adjustable mortgage that has suddenly tripled, threatening him, his divorced daughter and beloved granddaughter with foreclosure and eviction. Read on…

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THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE – Review by Susan Granger

As years go by, more and more poignant survival stories that have been buried in Holocaust history are surfacing. This one begins on a beautiful day in 1939 at Poland’s Warsaw Zoo, where Antonia Zabinska (Jessica Chastain) is helping her husband Jan (Belgian actor Johan Heldenberg) tend the animals. That afternoon, she resuscitates a newborn elephant calf who cannot breathe – with its distraught mother’s at her side. But then German aircraft appear overhead, and bombs reign down, killing many of the terrified beasts, while others escape to roam the city’s streets. Read on…

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WILSON — Review by Susan Granger

Based on Daniel Clowes’ 2010 graphic novel, this dark comedy revolves around an eccentric, middle-aged misanthrope who lives in a shabby apartment with Pepper, his engaging wire fox terrier, and is prone to befriend and then brusquely criticize strangers when they’re out for a walk. After his father dies of cancer and his only friend moves away, irascible Wilson (Woody Harrelson), who is far too forthright and honest, makes a half-hearted attempt to socialize, mentioning to a lonely companion (Margo Martindale) that he misses his ex-wife Pippi (Laura Dern), who left him 17 years ago. Read on…

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TABLE 19 — Review by Susan Granger

Angst-riddled weddings have always been ripe for satire but this rom-com doesn’t satisfy even the most meager expectations. Eloise McGarry (Anna Kendrick) was supposed to be Maid-of-Honor at her oldest friend’s Midwestern wedding but then the bride’s brother/Best Man, Teddy (Wyatt Russell), breaks up with her – via a text message. So clumsy, insecure Eloise finds herself relegated to a remote section of the reception, seated with the losers that the bridal couple felt obligated to invite but hoped wouldn’t come. Read on…

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LOGAN — Review by Susan Granger

As the “X-Men” saga continues, Logan (Hugh Jackman) – a.k.a. Wolverine – is caring for cranky, critically ill Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), along with the albino Caliban (Stephen Merchant), in a hideout along the Mexican border. It’s 2029, when mutants are almost extinct. Weary Logan earns his living as a chauffeur, driving his own limousine, and drinking far too much. But he’s still the feral mutant with massive claws and a trigger-sharp temper. Read on…

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A UNITED KINGDOM — Review by Susan Granger

In London in 1947, the future King of Botswana, Prince Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), who was studying law at Oxford, met a beautiful Englishwoman, Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), at a Mission Society dance and, soon after, they impulsively married. That’s just the beginning of this intriguing true story. Original opposition to their union came not only from Ruth’s racist father (Nicholas Lyndhurst) but also from the British government. Britain’s South Africa regime had recently introduced the policy of apartheid, so a biracial couple ruling a neighboring country seemed out of the question. Read on…

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A CURE FOR WELLNESS — Review by Susan Granger

When a young, ambitious Wall Street investment banker is dispatched to Switzerland to retrieve his company’s CEO from a mysterious, idyllic spa, encased in an Alpine castle, he discovers that the concept of “wellness” is open to macabre interpretation. Upon his arrival, Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) observes the elderly, outwardly contented residents wandering around in white robes, playing croquet, yet no staff member seems willing to tell him where his boss, Harold Pembroke (Harry Groener), is. As the plot twists and turns, Lockhart is in an automobile accident. Awakening with a broken leg, he discovers he’s now a patient, cared for by suavely sinister Dr. Heinrich Volmer (Jason Isaacs), who explains that the spa’s miraculous rejuvenation treatment comes from the water. Read on…

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THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE — Review by Susan Granger

This inventive, animated spin-off of 2014’s “The LEGO Movie” astutely ridicules the Caped Crusader, beginning with the title sequence, since “All important movies start with a black screen.” In the opening scene, self-centered Batman (Will Arnett) protects Gotham City from a series of desperados, led by the demented Joker (Zach Galifianakis), then regales its citizens about his heroics. When he’s not crime-fighting, narcissistic Bruce Wayne lives in luxurious isolation with his loyal butler, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). After microwaving leftover lobster, Wayne watches ‘Jerry Maguire” in his Bat Theater – until he’s joined by eager orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). Read on…

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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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