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Danny Devito (#110 of 3)

The Bat, the Cat, and the Penguin Batman Returns at 25

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The Bat, the Cat, and the Penguin: Batman Returns at 25

Warner Bros.

The Bat, the Cat, and the Penguin: Batman Returns at 25

The current draft of film history states that the DayGlo abomination that is Batman & Robin is directly responsible for not just putting Batman on film into an eight-year coma, but poisoning the idea of comic-book film adaptations altogether, to the point where the X-Men movie that followed three years later felt like a cowed, fearful gamble. Time, distance, and no small amount of insider stories have since provided some measure of vindication. Batman & Robin was simply a life-threatening complication stemming from a malignant fear struck into the hearts of Warner Bros. execs by letting a completely unshackled Tim Burton make Batman Returns.

A Movie a Day, Day 11: Men Behaving Badly - Greenberg and Solitary Man

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A Movie a Day, Day 11: Men Behaving Badly - <em>Greenberg</em> and <em>Solitary Man</em>
A Movie a Day, Day 11: Men Behaving Badly - <em>Greenberg</em> and <em>Solitary Man</em>

In these confessional, porn-saturated days, it’s getting harder for fictional characters to do something so outrageous that we can’t empathize with them. One of the biggest risks left for a filmmaker to take is to focus on a main character who is so narcissistic he hurts everyone he gets close to—particularly the women who love him. Both of the movies I saw yesterday, Greenberg and Solitary Man, take on that challenge, and I wanted to see if they could win my sympathy for their Hurricane Harry main characters.

It’s always been tough for women to get by with that sort of thing in the movies. From the evil daughter in Mildred Pierce to the bad mom in White Oleander, selfish women tend to get their comeuppance on screen. Even in film noir, where bad girls behave very badly and get away with it, we don’t usually like the femmes fatales, though it’s obvious why the hapless heroes fall for them.