DVD Update, Feb 10, 2012 – Susan Granger

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Who wrote Shakespeare’s plays? Could it have been an itinerant actor or a nobleman with Royal connections? David Thewlis, Rhys Ifans and Rafe Spall star in Roland Emmerich’s “Anonymous,” a speculative, far-fetched alternative-history curiosity that continues the controversy.

In a tribute to the 1927 Al Jolson film classic, Jerry Lewis’ “The Jazz Singer” offers a rare dramatic performance by Lewis, first produced as a 1959 special for NBC’s “Lincoln-Mercury Startime.”

Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds star in writer/director Dennis Lee’s “Fireflies in the Garden,” an innocuous, maudlin melodrama about coming to terms with your parents.

“Ashes” is a medical/horror thriller about an obsessive doctor (Brian Krause of “Charmed”) whose misguided cure for AIDS may wipe out mankind.

Oscar-nominated as Best Documentary, “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” explores the controversial environmental group and radicalization of Daniel McGowan, one of its members.

Another documentary “Knuckle” chronicles the two-fisted conflict between the Quinn-McDonagh and Joyce clans, rival Irish Travelers with a long history of violent, bare-knuckle boxing.

Before “The Artist,” Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo and director Michel Hazanavicius collaborated on French super-spy spoofs “OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies” and “OSS: Lost in Rio” with Dujardin as suave secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath.

German filmmaker Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) devises a sexy romance, “3,” set in Berlin, and centered on a 40-something couple who, separately, fall in love with the same man; it’s an intellectual study of a restless, contemporary couple looking for redefinition in a world of absolutes.

For pre-schoolers: “Angelina Ballerina: Sweet Valentine” and “Barney: I Love My Friends” revel in love and friendship, along with “Elmo’s Favorite Things,” “One Zillion Valentines” and a new Chuggington adventure, ”Brewster’s Little Helper.”

PICK OF THE WEEK: Back in 1973, a Columbia University psychologist theorized that if an infant chimpanzee were raised as a human child and taught American Sign Language, it would then be possible for researchers to communicate with another species. That’s the basis for the extraordinary documentary “Project Nim,” proving it’s ethically and emotionally devastating to monkey with nature.

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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 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.