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

 

A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Susan Granger

Filmmaker Sebastian Lelio examines the emotional stigma of transgender in this sensitive, Oscar-winning Chilean film. In Santiago, Martina Vidal (Daniela Vega) and Orlando Onetto (Francisco Reyes) are in love. She’s a young waitress/cabaret singer; he’s 20 years older, the owner of a printing company. After celebrating Martina’s birthday one evening, Orlando becomes ill, suffering a fatal aneurysm. Martina rushes him to the emergency room, but he dies on the operating table. Continue reading…

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RED SPARROW — Review by Susan Granger

When Russian prima ballerina Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) suffers a devastating injury, the Bolshoi will no longer pay for her Moscow apartment and care for her ailing mother (Joely Richardson). That’s when her lecherous Uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts), deputy director of Russia’s external intelligence agency SVR, makes her an offer she cannot refuse. Continue reading…

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ANNIHILATION — Review by Susan Granger

annihiation posterFollowing “Ex Machina,” writer/director Alex Garland has concocted an ominous sci-fi thriller drenched with a pervasive sense of foreboding and dread. It begins as a professor of cellular biology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Lena (Natalie Portman), is interrogated by Lomax (Benedict Wong) in a hazmat suit. Displaying no emotion, she calmly explains how her military husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac), was dispatched on a secret mission and disappeared. Almost a year passes before he returns, looking bizarrely catatonic and experiencing convulsions. When Lena summons an ambulance, she’s mysteriously kidnapped along with her now-comatose, dying husband, who is placed in quarantine by federal authorities.Continue reading…

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THE 15:17 to PARIS — Review by Susan Granger

On Thalys passenger train 9364 bound for Paris on August 21, 2015, three brave Americans intercepted a terrorist who was determined to kill as many people as possible. Their spontaneous heroism inspired Clint Eastwood not only to film their story but also to cast Spencer Stone, Alex Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler as themselves. Continue reading…

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WINCHESTER — Review by Susan Granger

Supposedly “inspired by actual events,” this Gothic ghost story revolves around widowed Sarah Lockwood Winchester (Helen Mirren), who inherited a vast fortune from her husband, William, whose family founded the fabled Winchester Repeating Arms in New Haven, Connecticut. From 1864 until her death in 1922, Sarah supervised construction of an elaborate estate In San Jose, California, a project supposedly instigated by a New England seer to delay her own demise and, perhaps, calm the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. Continue reading…

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EARLY MAN — Review by Susan Granger

With a filmography that includes “Chicken Run,” “Wallace and Gromit” and “Shaun the Sheep,” U.K.-based Aardman Animation specializes in Claymation, a labor-intensive form of stop-motion that uses figures made of clay. Animators pose the figures for each frame – every movement, every gesture – with 24 frames for each second of film. For every shot, the seven-inch-tall silicone figures are bolted into place on cleverly detailed sets that stand about two-feet high. Mouth movements are synched to pre-recorded vocal tracts. Continue reading…

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BLACK PANTHER — Review by Susan Granger

Exactly a decade after Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a powerful, new superhero has arrived – and he’s sensational! The warrior T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is the Prince/protector of the fantastical African nation of Wakanda, an isolated, secretive kingdom that’s rich with Vibranium – the mythic ‘alien’ metal that comprises Captain America’s shield. This invaluable resource has enabled incredible technological advances including magnetic transfers, superconductors, and spaceships. Continue reading…

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50 SHADES FREED — Review by Susan Granger

The final episode of this inexplicably successful, soft-core porn franchise opens with billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) dazzling his bride, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson),with an ostentatious display of his staggering wealth: his jet, his yacht, his chef, etc. Continue reading…

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12 STRONG — Review by Susan Granger

This contemporary war picture celebrates the brave soldiers who fought against Al Qaeda -without probing too deeply into the political justification or disillusioning aftermath of their heroic efforts. Green Beret Operational Detachment Alpha 595 consists of a 12-member U.S. Special Forces squad sent into mountainous northern Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. Their mission is to take the Taliban stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif within three weeks – before the winter snow hits. Continue reading…

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MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURSE — Review by Susan Granger

In this epic finale to the YA trilogy, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his buddies have survived a perilous dash through a mysterious labyrinth called The Glade and subsequent trek through a harsh desert wasteland, overseen by a quasi-governmental agency called WCKD (World in Catastrophe: Killerzone Experiment Dept.). Continue reading…

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THE INSULT — Review by Susan Granger

Ziad Doueiri’s intriguing political drama is Lebanon’s submission for the 2018 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film and winner of the 2017 Venice Film Festival’s Best Actor Award (Kamel El Basha). In contemporary Beirut, there’s always an undercurrent of tension between Lebanese Christians and Palestinian Muslim refugees. Which is why a casual insult is blown ‘way out of proportion. Continue reading…

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PROUD MARY — Review by Susan Granger

Everything old is new again! In the 1970s, the ethnic subgenre of action thrillers, starring black actors, was known as “Blaxpolitation” films. Exemplified by “Shaft,” “Cleopatra Jones” and “Foxy Brown,” they were originally aimed an urban audiences, but their appeal spread. Now – with the rise of fighting female characters – Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures,” TV’s “Empire”) takes the titular role as a ruthless African-American assassin who feels guilty about one particular hit for the Boston Mob. Continue reading…

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PADDINGTON 2 — Review by Susan Granger

Set a few years after Paddington sprang onto the silver screen, the red-hatted, blue-raincoated, marmalade-scarfing bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has settled into a new life in London’s Windsor Gardens with his adoptive parents, the Browns (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins). Continue reading…

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JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE — Review by Susan Granger

This re-imagining of Robin Williams’ 1995 action comedy delights in its own right, as four archetypal teenagers, serving detention in the school’s storeroom, discover a vintage video game and decide to play, each assuming an avatar. Brainiac nerd Spencer (Alex Wolff) picks Dr. Smolder Bravestone, football star Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) chooses zoologist Moose Finbar, egocentric Bethany (Madison Iseman) opts for ‘curvy’ cartographer Shelly Oberon, leaving angry, uptight Martha (Morgan Turner) as Ruby Roundhouse. Continue reading…

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ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD — Review by Susan Granger

Perhaps even more fascinating than this fact-based kidnap drama is how 80 year-old director Ridley Scott replaced scandal-riddled Kevin Spacey with 88 year-old Christopher Plummer as billionaire J. Paul Getty. After re-filming 22 scenes, Scott seamlessly edited old reaction shots with the new footage. Continue reading…

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HOSTILES — Review by Susan Granger

Paying homage to classic Westerns like John Ford’s “The Searchers,” writer/director Scott Cooper has created a different kind of frontier saga, one which examines the complexity of the Native American conflict and connects with relevant, contemporary themes, including reconciliation, inclusion and equality. Continue reading…

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FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL — Review by Susan Granger

Annette Bening delivers a powerhouse performance as sultry Gloria Grahame. Yet to fully appreciate it, you should know a bit about who this enigmatic actress was. Back in 1940s and ‘50s film noir, Grahame starred in “Crossfire,” “Sudden Fear,” “The Big Heat,” “In a Lonely Place” and “The Bad and the Beautiful,” for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Fans also remember her from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Greatest Show on Earth” and “Oklahoma!” Continue reading…

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COCO — Review by Susan Granger

Pixar Animation is known as “family-friendly” – and none more than their 19th feature, a fantasy that faithfully depicts Mexican culture, celebrates the Hispanic customs and folklore of Dia de los Muertos, and acknowledges cultural icons like Frida Kahlo and El Santo. Continue reading…

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I, TONYA — Review by Susan Granger

Unless you find parental and domestic abuse amusing, the Coming Attractions are deceiving. This is NOT a comedy – in any sense of the word. Craig Gillespie’s glibly fictionalized, bizarre biopic begins with…”Based on irony-free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews with Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly.” Continue readiing…

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WONDER — Review by Susan Granger

Are Hollywood’s title-titans trying to confuse us? “Wonder Woman” was the hit of the summer. Last week, I highly recommended Todd Haynes’ imaginative “Wonderstruck.” Now, I’m touting the family-oriented drama “Wonder”…and soon we’ll get Woody Allen’s new “Wonder Wheel.”
“Wonder” begins as August “Auggie” Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) earnestly explains, “I’m not an ordinary 10 year-old kid.” He was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare genetic mutation that causes severe facial deformities. Continue reading…

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JUSTICE LEAGUE — Review by Susan Granger

When William Shakespeare wrote, “It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing,” he could have been summarizing “Justice League.” Or, let’s put it this way: How is it that when you’re given everything, you come away with nothing?” Continue reading…

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LBJ –Review by Susan Granger

There’s no question that Lyndon Baines Johnson had his eye on the White House during his tenure as Senate Majority Leader. But being a good poker player and canny pragmatist, he knew when to ‘hold ‘em’ and when to ‘fold ‘em,’ which is why he agreed to run as John F. Kennedy’s Vice-President after failing to get the 1960 Democratic nomination for himself. Continue reading…

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MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE — Review by Susan Granger

The takeaway thought from this less-than-memorable biopic is that one highly-principled person can make a big difference…and many Americans are hoping that another steps forth soon. The whistleblower is Mark Felt (Liam Neeson), who for many years was a trusted confidante and second-in-line to the F.B.I.’s Director J. Edgar Hoover. Continue reading…

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THOR: RAGNAROK — Review by Susan Granger

For comic-book fans, Marvel’s hammer-throwing hero is back – in the BEST Thor movie yet! ince “Ragnarok” means apocalypse, the story picks up where the last one left off: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the God of Thunder, is trying to save Asgard, his home planet, only to discover that he and his treacherous brother Loki (Tim Hiddleston) have a power-hungry older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), Goddess of Death. Continue reading…

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WALKING OUT — Review by Susan Granger

Montana-born filmmakers Alex and Andrew Smith craft this father/son saga as a tense survival story, reminiscent of “The Revenant” and “Mountain Men.” Continue reading…

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