Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to, AARP The Magazine online as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.


Articles by Susan Wloszczyna


93QUEEN –Review by Susan Wloszczyna

As documentaries go, 93Queen might be constricted in its scope as it details the recent creation of an all-female Hasidic EMT corps of volunteers that serves the male-dominated ultraorthodox Jewish community of Borough Park, Brooklyn. Given how women followers must steadfastly maintain their modesty to the point where showing their bare legs to a man other than their husband is forbidden, it didn’t make sense that an all-male medical emergency squad known as Hatzolah was the only option to handle calls involving births, miscarriages and other indelicate body-exposing medical situations. Continue reading…

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DARK MONEY — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

dark money posterThe documentary Dark Money sheds light on the effects of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010 that opened the door to undisclosed corporate funding of smear campaigns and political agendas that served not we, the people, but they, the big-pocketed rich and powerful. Although the subject is highly relevant, it might not sound like a scintillating night at the movies. But director Kimberly Reed (Prodigal Sons) smartly grabs our attention by using the gorgeous and thinly populated state of Montana as a microcosm for the ongoing corruption of the election process. Continue reading…

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LEAVE NO TRACE — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

The very idea of going off the grid sounds mighty appealing right about now. No cable news. No digital gadgets. No concerns about the future save for surviving day by day by using your own wits. Leave No Trace presents a truth-based back-to-nature utopia of sorts shared by Will, a military vet dad who has been left traumatized by his years of service, and Tom, his precociously perceptive teen daughter. Their tight bond as they live off the land in a nature reserve outside of Portland has echoes Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Thoreau’s Walden, yet feels like it is just the relief we need from our tumultuous times. Continue reading…

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MOUNTAIN — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Mountain is a thing unto itself. It isn’t so much a documentary as it is a mesmerizingly immersive tone poem. It intentionally frees the mind — aided by a mood-enhancing chamber music score and an essay-like narration provided by Willem Dafoe — from having to absorb facts and figures or names and places. Instead, the viewer is given license to simply be in the moment while enjoying an up-close and personal perch to safely contemplate mankind’s need to conquer these soaring monoliths. Continue reading…

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LITTLE PINK HOUSE — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

little pink house posterMay we all be so lucky to have an always-mesmerizing actress like Catherine Keener play us if our lives ever inspire a film. Within the first few minutes of Little Pink House, the two-time Oscar nominee swiftly establishes real-life paramedic and nurse Susette Kelo as a thoughtful and quietly alluring life force to be reckoned with. Just the way she tends to the ailing mother of an old classmate and puts her at ease during an ambulance ride suggests she would be someone you would want to be at your side in a fight. It is not so surprising, then, that Susette would end up being the compelling face and voice of a nearly decade-long legal battle that would pit Big Pharma against blue-collar residents over the right of their town’s officials to invoke “eminent domain” to force them out of their humble abodes. The landmark case would eventually be tried by the Supreme Court in 2005 with Susette as the plaintiff. Continue reading…

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THE PARTY — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

And now for something completely different: The Party, a tidily caustic 71-minute politically-charged dark comedy. It conveys both the tense horror of attending most American familial holiday gatherings these days and the vicious bite of Mike Nichol’s version of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, down to a book-stacked middle-class abode and the classic black and white cinematography. A fox that creeps by open patio doors functions as a predictor — much like its cousin in Antichrist – that chaos will soon reign. Continue reading…

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A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

As an ardent admirer of Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio’s Gloria, about a mousy 50-ish divorcee and office worker who yearns for romance but only on her own terms, it was no surprise that his A Fantastic Woman similarly managed to take my breath away while viewing the world through female eyes. Continue reading…

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BATTLE OF THE SEXES — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

battle of the sexes posterThose of us still upset over Hillary Clinton’s election loss as well as the ugly gender-based backlash unfairly aimed at her book tour will be glad to bask in the nostalgic glow of Battle of the Sexes. The year was 1973, a time when the feminist movement was in full swing and dumb bra-burning jokes and derisive comments about hairy-legged libbers were all the rage. And nothing quite symbolized the fight for equal rights quite so well than when 29-year-old Billie Jean King, the top female tennis player in the world, kicked the butt of 55-year-old self-proclaimed male chauvinist pig Bobby Riggs on primetime TV that was watched by 90 million viewers worldwide. Continue reading…

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POLINA — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

polina posterIn the film Flashdance, when Jennifer Beals is about to toss away her ambitions to be a ballerina, her boyfriend tells her, “When you give up your dream, you die.” But what if you are fulfilling someone else’s dream? Apparently, you never really live. That is what happens to the title character in Polina, about a young Russian girl who spends her entire youth training for the Bolshoi Ballet while fulfilling her parents’ wish, while her father must resort to shady means to pay her way. Inevitably, Polina rebels as a teen. Continue reading…

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THE BEGUILED — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

the beguiled posterThe original 1971 “The Beguiled” pitted Clint Eastwood’s wounded Union solider Corp. John McBurney against the residents of a Southern girls’ school during the Civil War who treat him like a prisoner while fantasizing how he could be the man of their dreams. This handsome and wily manipulator seems to know his effect on the woman folk from the opening scene as he steals a kiss from the 12-year-old student who has found him. As directed by Don Siegel, the jealousies and rivalries that develop are deliberately stirred up by Eastwood’s male interloper who acts like a rooster in a hen house who can’t fly away. This is clearly a war of the sexes, and despite igniting an ongoing catfight atmosphere, his McBurney fails to see he is outnumbered nine to one, including a head mistress, a teacher, a slave and six students. Continue reading…

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SAMI BLOOD — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

sami blood 4When a film transports you to a society you never knew existed, it can prove magically transcendent while incredibly moving. Add an adolescent female discovering what she is capable of and you have me hooked. That happened last year with The Eagle Huntress, a documentary about a Mongolian girl’s singular feats with her regal bird of prey. And it happens again in a far different arena with the 14-year-old female Laplander who is the focus of Sami Blood, a Swedish coming-of-age drama handled with an impressive delicacy of purpose by first-time filmmaker Amanda Kernell. Continue reading…

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SPOTLIGHT May, 2015: Shira Piven, Director, WELCOME TO ME

awfjspotlightsmallsmallshirapiven1This month’s choice for AWFJ’s SPOTLIGHT is director Shira Piven, sister of Entourage’s Jeremy Piven and daughter of the esteemed Chicago-based actors and instructors Byrne and Joyce Piven. Her second feature, Welcome to Me, opens on May 1. The femme-centric dramedy, starring Kristen Wiig, is about a mentally unstable woman who uses her millions in lottery winnings to buy her own TV talk show. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, with Variety calling it “startlingly inspired” and “breezily bonkers.” Read on…

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SPOTLIGHT March 2015: LILY JAMES, Actress and Ascending Star

awfjspotlightsmallsmallThis month’s choice for AWFJ’s SPOTLIGHT is Lily James, a star on the rise who is living out her own Cinderella fantasy as the belle of the ball in Disney’s sumptuous live-action iteration of the classic fairy tale. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the highly anticipated film opens on March 13. Read on…

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awfjspotlightsmallsmallThis month’s choice for AWFJ’s SPOTLIGHT is a film industry leader who will be quite busy on Feb. 22, the night of the 87th Academy Awards ceremony: Cheryl Boone Isaacs, a veteran PR and marketing whiz who acts as Oscar’s main spokesperson. She made history in 2013 by becoming the first African-American and only the third woman (after screenwriter Fay Kanin and actress Bette Davis, who lasted only two weeks in the position in 1941) to be named president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Read on…

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SPOTLIGHT January 2015: GAIL ANNE HURD, Producer Extraordinaire

awfjspotlightsmallsmallThis month’s choice for AWFJ’s Spotlight is producer extraordinaire Gale Anne Hurd, 59, who decades ago smashed the gender barrier that existed in such genres as action and science fiction with ground-breaking cinematic efforts including the original Terminator trilogy and Aliens. Hurd has since expanded her sphere of influence to TV, as executive producer of the most-watched scripted drama among broadcast series, The Walking Dead, which is set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies. She will be honored with the Producers Guild of America’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award on Jan. 24. Read on…

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SPOTLIGHT: December, 2014 – Anna Kendrick, Actress and Ascending Star

awfjspotlightsmallsmallThis month’s AWFJ’s Spotlight is focused on multi-talent Anna Kendrick, 29, who is having quite a moment at year’s end. Whether as a standout as Cinderella in the much-anticipated movie musical Into the Woods (opening Dec. 25) or a button-cute spokeswoman in a bit of a bind for Kate Spade’s high-end fashion line in the ho-ho-haute holiday ad titled The Waiting, this star is ascendant. Read on…

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SPOTLIGHT: November, 2014 – Sheila Johnson, Film Festival Founder, Entertainment Mogul

awfjspotlightsmallsmallThis month, AWFJ’s SPOTLIGHT is focused on Sheila Johnson, billionaire entrepreneur, co-founder of BET, philanthropist and the force behind the four-day Middleburg Film Festival in Virginia – which celebrates its second year this month with a slate of 20 films, including titles that are already garnering Oscars buzz. Read on…

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Top Ten 2012 – Susan Wloszczyna

1. Zero Dark Thirty — Never mind the controversy. A stirring action thriller that breaks gender boundaries.

2. Bernie — Made me love Jack Black all over again.

3. Magic Mike — Half-naked men, artistically served.

4. The Silver Linings Playbook — Been waiting for David O. Russell to make another Flirting With Disaster. This came darn close.

5. The Sessions — I knew I would cry, but didn’t expect I would laugh so much.

6. Argo — Enjoyably gripping, not easy to do.

7. Moonrise Kingdom — Every film could benefit from Bill Murray swilling wine in preppy pants.

8. Anna Karenina — The scene with the alphabet blocks — like 19th-century sexting.

9. Skyfall — Made me love Bond all over again.

10. The Hunger Games — This is where I will go on record to say I liked this better than The Dark Knight Rises.

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AWFJ Women On Film- Sarasota Film Festival – Susan Wloszczyna reports

USA TODAY’s Susan Wloszczyna, a founding member of AWFJ, found the topic of women in film alive and well and much discussed at the 13th Sarasota Film Festival this year. Her exclusive report:

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Women On Film – Is ‘Bridezilla’ Our Future? – Susan Wloszczyna comments – Exclusive!

Bridezillas Hudson and Hathaway

Bridezillas Hudson and Hathaway

Is it me, or are romantic comedies of late not only tragically unfunny but virulently anti-women as well?

Take Bride Wars. Please! How Anne Hathaway could go from her playing the raw and riveting rehab sis in Rachel Getting Married to a clichéd Bridezilla out to upstage Kate Hudson’s dreadful blonde wig is beyond me.

At least the public rightly decided during the film’s opening weekend that their time would be better spent watching Clint Eastwood as a tobacco-spewing, arms-bearing bigot of a geezer.

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Susan Wloszczyna – Top Ten – Exclusive!

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Women in Film in USA Today – Susan Wloszczyna

One of our main goals in writing these pieces was to refocus at least some of the attention this summer on other box office achievements besides the bazillions The Dark Knight is collecting. And on how the success of both “Sex and the City” and “Mamma Mia!” are considerable achievements given that much of their grosses were contributed by female moviegoers, proving we aren’t just a niche group.

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Susan Wloszczyna on Cate Blanchett

It’s hard to resist the urge to curtsy upon greeting Cate Blanchett. Australia’s fashionably wrapped gift to superior acting is once more upon England’s throne, in all her regally bedecked and bewigged glory, in Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Read more

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Susan Wloszczyna on marketing girls’ images

Almost all the attempts to reach the female tween audience at the movies haven’t caught on of late, from The Babysitter’s Club to Traveling Pants. They just don’t speak to young girls as much as they do marketing concerns.

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Susan Wloszczyna addresses Travolta’s drag in “Hairspray”

Setting Travolta fans straight about John’s upcoming “Hairspray” performance, Susan Wloszczyna reports in USA Today, Travolta a year to agree to play super-do mama Edna Turnblad. “The problem wasn’t…playing a woman. It was…competing with his twentysomething self.” more

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