Armchair Cinephile

Barbara Stanwyck: The Signature
(Warner Bros.)

I, like many of my film-loving pals, am late to the Babs party; all those lame TV shows she did in her twilight years cast a pall over her early, fiery career. Here’s a sampler of her heyday work, ranging from Westerns to thrillers to the occasional melodrama. The real landmarks (Double Indemnity, Ball of Fire) aren’t included, but there’s good stuff here.

No End in Sight

Cinephiles suffering Iraq Fatigue should think twice before skipping this doc, which pulls back from individual scandals, instead offering a scathing, master-shot-style sum-up of the fiasco to date. Comprehensive and sympathetic to those who tried in good faith to make U.S. policy work, it’s among the handful of truly
essential Iraq War films.

Spider-Man 3

The trilogy’s capper was a real let-down, its brilliant moments and good ideas weighed down by overkill. But 3’s DVD release is a fine excuse to put the complete series out on Blu-ray, where the first installment proves to be just as gee-whiz wonderful as we remember.

Talk to Me

A loving evocation of Black Power-era Washington, D.C., Talk to Me (out today on DVD and HD-DVD) was another fine showcase for Don Cheadle, who achieves here an impressive feat: He makes Chiwetel Ejiofor look bland.

Spike Jones: The Legend (Infinity): This archive-culled DVD/CD box set features zany performances by one of the pioneers of musical clowning, whose ’50s routines have more staying power than most of the novelty acts he inspired.