Vital Signs

Christmastime in Hollywood

Batman Returns
Produced by Denise di Novi and Tim Burton
Directed by Tim Burton
Screenplay by Daniel Waters
Released by Warner Brothers

Monster in a Box
Produced by Jon Blair and Renee Shafransky
Directed by Nick Broomfield
Written and Performed by Spalding Gray
Released by Fine Line Features

Not only had I not planned to see Batman Returns, I had made a verv definite promise to myself not to see it. The earlier Batman had been boring and incoherent, a product from and for another culture or maybe even another species. Aside from Jack Nicholson's campy bravura, there had been almost nothing to look at. Once burned, twice careful. These plans of mine were foiled, of course—but not by the strenuous promotions and tie-ins (the film grossed $100 million dollars in only II days, which would be a record—except that Batman hit that mark in only 10 days). What changed my mind was a piece on the op-ed page of the New York Times by a couple of seniors at Columbia, Rebecca Roiphe and Daniel Cooper, an essay entitled "Batman and the Jewish Question."

A joke? On the contrary. Their first paragraph reads: "Batman's new adversary, the Penguin, played by Danny DeVito in 'Batman Returns,' is not just a deformed man, half-human, half-Arctic...

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