Music » Culture Jamming

Holy Special Editions!

A Batcave full of Batman tops our pop-culture picks of the week.

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Batman makes like Prince in the "When Doves Cry" video.
  • Batman makes like Prince in the "When Doves Cry" video.

DVD -- Batman Begins/Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology: The Caped Crusader's return to Dark Knight territory in this year's Batman Begins incorporates all the psychological (and physical) anguish that the last Batman movies somehow fumbled away. All five two-disc sets come loaded with making-of docs, commentaries, and insight from directors Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins), Tim Burton (Batman, Batman Returns), and Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever, Batman & Robin), who offers precious little explanation for the infamous nipple suit.

BOOK -- The ACME Novelty Library: Chris Ware -- the author of the most heartbreaking graphic novel ever written, Jimmy Corrigon: The Smartest Kid on Earth -- compiles the cartoon asides that dotted his ACME Novelty Library comic book over the past 10 years. Smart, sharp, and touching, the book presents ads for bogus products, childhood recollections, and an even more sympathetic portrait of geeky action-figure collectors than The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

CD -- Alicia Keys Unplugged: Keys doesn't unplug so much as rework on this intimate live disc. Like the best outings in MTV's acoustic series (Mariah's, Nirvana's), the singer-pianist finds new ways to present songs we're overly familiar with ("If I Ain't Got You," "You Don't Know My Name," "Fallin'"). Cameos by Common and Mos Def provide bounce. Maroon 5's Adam Levine fills the white-guy-trying-to-be-soulful slot.

TV -- Last Best Chance: Senator Fred Dalton Thompson headlines this what-if film (airing at 8 p.m. Monday on HBO) about nuclear terrorism, based on real-life-threat scenarios. After Al-Qaeda operatives get their hands on some weapon-making materials, it's up to the Tennessee representative (and Law & Order alum) to stop them. Look out, Osama: He's prepared to filibuster!

CD -- Talking Heads: And you might find yourself digging all eight of the seminal new-wave band's studio albums, which receive the two-sided DualDisc treatment in this splendid box. Rare tracks, unreleased songs, and stellar remixed sound abound. And the videos of David Byrne shimmying in that oversized suit never get old.

DVD -- Val Lewton Horror Collection: Producer Lewton made monster movies in the 1940s that weren't like those of his contemporaries, in either look or effect. His best films -- Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, and The Seventh Victim -- dwell on psychological scares, rarely revealing the beasts lurking in the shadows. This five-disc set (featuring 10 flicks, including a new doc) has atmosphere and chills to spare. Perfect for a pre-Halloween film fest.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Thanks for the Memory . . . The Great American Songbook: Volume IV: Erstwhile rock legend Rod Stewart's fourth CD of songs sinks to new depths of cheese. His listless takes on Gershwin and Berlin standards are blah enough, but enlisting slumming pals Elton John and Diana Ross for duets qualifies as a human-rights violation. And you thought "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" was Rod's nadir . . .

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