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

 

PATERSON — Review by Susan Granger

Paterson (Adam Driver) is a New Jersey Transit bus driver in Paterson – they share the name. Paterson leads an orderly, routine life. Every day, he gets up early, kisses his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), makes coffee and eats a bowl of Cheerios before walking to the bus depot. As he drives his No. 23 route around the city, he observes his disparate passengers and listens to snippets of their conversation. He comes home at the same time for dinner each night, walks their cranky English bulldog Marvin, and enjoys a beer at a corner bar. But his passion is writing poetry in a small notebook. Read on…

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THE GREAT WALL — Review by Susan Granger

Filmed entirely in China, this epic, $150 million action/adventure/fantasy was designed to stun the Western world like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000). Directed by Zhang Yimou (“Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers”), who orchestrated the opening and concluding ceremonies of Beijing’s 2008 Olympic Summer Games, it relates a 12th century Chinese legend. Riding on horseback through the Gobi desert, European mercenary William Garin (Matt Damon) and his sidekick Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal) evade nomads in the rugged steppes while searching for “black powder”(gunpowder) which will change the future of war. Read on...

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FIFTY SHADES DARKER — Review by Susan Granger

When we last saw Anastasia “Ana” Steele (Dakota Johnson), she’d brusquely walked out on domineering Seattle billionaire Christian Grey (scruffy Jamie Dornan) after he not only took her virginity but turned her into his sex slave. Three weeks later, she has a job as an assistant to the editor in a publishing house. But when Christian buys an entire art exhibit of her photos, gullible Ana returns to his bedroom – with a “Chronicles of Riddick” poster on the wall – and his kinky Red Room (a.k.a. dungeon), which has been sensuously redecorated. Their arrangement is renegotiated and, this time, he promises: no pain – unless you count nipple clamps. Read on…

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SILENCE — Review by Susan Granger

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese (Kundun, Last Temptation of Christ) is obviously fascinated with the foundations of faith, adapting Shusaku Endo’s 1966 historical novel about two Jesuit priests who travel from Portugal to Japan to find their mentor who is rumored to have renounced his religion under torture. In 17th century Buddhist Japan, Catholicism has been outlawed and its believers persecuted. But fervent Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver) are determined to track down Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). As they search, they minister to converted villagers who risk their lives to hide them from the wily Inquisitor (Issei Ogata) and his interpreter (Tadanobu Asano), who give suspected Christians the opportunity to recant by stepping on an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Read on…

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EVERLASTING — Review by Susan Granger

Writer/director Anthony Stabley has devised a different twist on the traditional horror film, combining his ominous concept with a murder mystery. “Darkness can take over your life, even when you think you have everything under control,” notes Matt Ortega (Adam David), a high-school filmmaker who receives a mysterious package containing a DV tape depicting the torture and murder of his girlfriend Jessie (Valentina de Angelis). Read on…

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LIVE BY NIGHT — Review by Susan Granger

As a director – with Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo to his credit – Ben Affleck is besotted by atmospheric authenticity, particularly in his hometown of Boston. After fighting the Huns in Francer in W.W.I, disillusioned Joe Coughlin (Affleck) returns home to Prohibition-era Boston, vowing never to take orders from anyone again. Resisting all authority, he becomes a thief and an outlaw. Read on…

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ASSASSIN’S CREED — Review by Susan Granger

Based on Ubisoft’s popular video game, this time-tripping sci-fi film rarely rises above incoherency. The saga begins with a series of ominous biblical texts, informing us that a device known as the Apple from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden contains “the key to free will itself.” Read on…

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PATRIOTS DAY – Review by Susan Granger

Chronicling the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and its intense aftermath, this is a heavy-handed, by-the-numbers action-thriller about how a community responded to an act of terror. Assigned to duty on the finish line, feisty Police Sgt. Jimmy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) has a sore knee so he phones his wife (Michelle Monaghan) to bring him his knee brace. Meanwhile, two Muslim rebels, Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) and Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) Tsarnaev, are calmly making nail-filled bombs and loading them into their backpacks. Read on…

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THE FOUNDER — Review by Susan Granger

Michael Keaton (“Spotlight,” “Birdman”) plays ruthless Ray Kroc in this backstory of the ubiquitous McDonald’s franchise, an innovative, assembly-line idea that revolutionized the fast food industry. In 1952, traveling salesman Kroc was working hard, peddling milkshake machines to drive-ins in the Midwest, while avidly absorbing “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Read on…

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FENCES — Review by Susan Granger

Adapting a Broadway play for the screen is always a challenge – one that Denzel Washington found daunting, particularly since August Wilson’s iconic chronicle of a dysfunctional family is a Pulitzer Prize-winning glimpse into the essential African-American experience. Set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during the 1950s, it revolves around the relationship between a bitter, Negro League baseball player-turned-sanitation worker, 53 year-old Troy Maxon (Washington), and his long-suffering wife Rose (Viola Davis) Read on…

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LION — Review by Susan Granger

When five year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) is accidentally abandoned in a railroad station, he gets on a train and falls asleep, travelling thousands of miles across India, far away from his family, left to fend for himself as an orphan on the streets of Kolkata (Calcutta). That’s how he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime – one that takes him all the way to Australia, where he’s adopted by a loving couple (Nicole Kidman, David Wenham), growing up, safe and secure, in Hobart. Read on…

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PASSENGERS — Review by Susan Granger

It’s a terrific sci-fi premise: Two passengers on a 120-year journey on the immense, ultra-luxurious spaceship Avalon emerge from their hibernation pods 90 years too yearly. Along with 5000 paying passengers and 258 crew, they’re headed for a distant colony on a planet called Homestead II, which offers a ‘promised land’ alternative to “overpopulated, overpriced and overrated Earth.” Read on…

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WHY HIM? — Review by Susan Granger

According to writer/director John Hamburg, the idea for this crude, crass comedy about an uptight father meeting his daughter’s obnoxious boyfriend came from Shawn Levy when they were making “Night at the Museum.” What particularly intrigued Hamburg was how the world had changed since he made “Meet the Parents.” Previously, adults were in charge; now, young Silicon Valley techies have become billionaires. So he made that generational conflict the pivotal point. Read on…

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A MONSTER CALLS – Review by Susan Granger

Dark, gothic fantasy abounds in Juan Antonio Bayona’s empathetic exploration of how an adolescent British lad faces the terminal illness of his beloved mother. Bullied at school, 12 year-old Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) suffers from a recurring nightmare about his ailing Mum (Felicity Jones), for whom various cancer treatments don’t seem to be working. Read on…

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HIDDEN FIGURES — Review by Susan Granger

Searching through history often reveals untold true stories that are hidden gems: this is one of them. During the early 1960s, several African-American women worked for NASA, providing the mathematical data needed to launch America’s first successful space mission. But, every day – in a myriad of ways – their integrity and perseverance were challenged by the hostile racism and inherent sexism of that period. Read on…

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NOCTURNAL ANIMALS — Review by Susan Granger

From fashion designer-turned-writer/director Tom Ford comes a bizarre marital thriller, as a divorced couple discover dark truths about their tortured relationship. The opening credit sequences is one of the weirdest I’ve ever seen: grotesquely obese, naked, middle-aged women writhe in billowing glitter as part of an installation at an elite Los Angeles art gallery opening, curated by Susan Morrow (Amy Adams). Afterwards, Susan’s emotionally distant husband, WASP financier Hutton (Armie Hammer), jets off to New York for an adulterous liaison – under the pretext of saving his failing business. Read on…

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ALMOST CHRISTMAS — Review by Susan Granger

It’s been a tough year for mild-mannered Walter Meyers (Danny Glover). A retired automotive engineer in Birmingham, Alabama, he’s lost his beloved wife Grace. Which is why – five days before Christmas – he’s so looking forward to his four adult children and their youngsters returning home for the holidays. Read on…

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MOONLIGHT — Review by Susan Granger

Writer/director Barry Jenkins has created an achingly affecting, incandescent coming-of-age story, told in three chapters, covering 16 years – with three different actors playing the leading African-American character. Growing up in a decrepit, inner-city housing project in Miami, scrawny, fatherless 10 year-old Chiron (Alex Hibbert) has been dubbed “Little” by playmates, who suspect his tendency toward homosexuality long before he knows what the term “faggot” means. Read on…

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TROLLS — Review by Susan Granger

Back in 1959, a Danish woodcutter named Thomas Dam came up with the idea of a Good Luck Troll doll. As the story goes, he couldn’t afford to buy a doll for his young daughter, so he carved one. It became so popular among her friends that Dam became a toymaker, founding Dam Things, producing Trolls in soft plastic with colorful, cotton-candy hair. In 2003, the Toy Industry Assoc. elevated the squat, fuzzy Troll to its Century of Toys list, and now DreamWorks Animation has created a musical comedy about the search for happiness – and just how far some will go to get it. Read on…

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SHUT IN — Review by Susan Granger

This wannabe thriller begins in rural Maine as Mary Portman (Naomi Watts) bids farewell to her incorrigible teenage stepson, Stephen (Charlie Heaton), who is being banished to a boarding school. En route, as Stephen scuffles with his father, a horrific car crash ensues. The father dies and Stephen emerges totally paralyzed and catatonic. Now-widowed Mary, who works out of her home as a child psychologist, becomes Stephen’s sole caregiver. By nature, she’s a nurturer, so it’s not surprising that she becomes attached to Tom (Jacob Tremblay from “Room”), a deaf youngster who has become violent with his playmates. Read on…

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DR. STRANGE — Review by Susan Granger

The Marvel Cinematic Universe expands with a dazzling, kaleidoscopic prelude set in a Nepalese monastery, where villainous Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson) teleports into a guarded library, rips a page from an ancient tome and departs through a weird portal leading into downtown London. Meanwhile, celebrated Manhattan neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), proves he’s as narcissistic as he is gifted, his unbridled arrogance causing a horrific automobile accident that leaves his trembling hands unable to use a scalpel. Read on…

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HACKSAW RIDGE — Review by Susan Granger

Featuring the most brutal wartime carnage since Saving Private Ryan, director Mel Gibson depicts a true-life biopic about a pacifist, a man whose unconventional beliefs made him a pariah among his peers. Raised as a Seventh-Day Adventist in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, idealistic Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) enlists in the U.S. Army during W.W.II as a medic – to save lives. A conscientious objector, he refuses to use a weapon, which confuses his tough drill Sergeant (Vince Vaughn) and infuriates other recruits in his barracks. Refusing to quit boot camp, pious Doss is threatened with a court martial because he won’t obey Army regulations. Read on…

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DENIAL — Review by Susan Granger

Until the late 1980s, British historian David Irving (Timothy Spall) enjoyed respectability among his peers, even though his best-known book “Hitler’s War” (1977) claimed that Hitler had no knowledge of the Holocaust. But then Irving began to deny the existence of the Holocaust, ridiculing claims that there were gas chambers. When a strident American academic from Queens, New York, Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz), accused him of anti-Semitism in “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory” (1993), it never occurred to her that she – and Penguin Books – could be sued for libel – or that the ensuing court cast would put acceptance of the Holocaust on trial. Read on…

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BIRTH OF A NATION – Review by Susan Granger

I’m incredibly conflicted about this film. Writer/director/actor Nate Parker has created a searing, powerful Civil War drama, revolving around an 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner. Set on cotton plantations in Southampton County, Virginia, it reveals that, as a child, Nat (Tony Espinosa) was recognized by an African tribal shaman as a potential prophet/leader. And he’s encouraged to read the Bible by his master’s wife (Penelope Ann Miller). Read on…

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KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS — Review by Susan Granger

Beginning with the ominous warning – “If you must blink, do it now” – because “if you look away, even for an instant, our hero will surely perish.” Set in ancient Japan, this animated fantasy-adventure revolves around an 11 year-old boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson), a story-telling musician whose skill at origami (the art of paper-folding) resonates with Hosato (George Takei), Akhiro (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and Kameyo (Brenda Vaccaro). Read on…

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