citizen kate: day seven

holy finish line! it is, mercifully, day seven and we begin the end with more snow-covered bondage gear from tim burton in batman returns (1992).

i think out of all the pre-christopher nolan batman entries this one is my favorite, though that's not saying much. i think nicholson's joker was awful, embarrassing even, and everything that followed this in the franchise was more and more ridiculous. i don't really need to go into the plot here, do i? penguin origin story, catwoman origin story, bruce wayne has his supposedly "secret" identity exposed for the second time in two movies and all the hot latex action in the world can't save a romance this bat signal-crossed. this is like the carnival ride version of batman. lots of brightly colored whirly things at the entrance, music piped in from everywhere, goes really fast, is fun if you didn't eat too much funnel cake beforehand and then you end up right back where you started. i did like the two-villain angle in this one, something i am not always fond of. michelle pfeiffer makes a decent catwoman and danny devito was an inspired, and gross, choice for the penguin. it's easy to forget between viewings how vile and extremely violent they made him. in the middle of broad comic book action, a lot of it played for laughs, he is downright homicidal. he is pathetic and wounded and truly villainous. he understood the material about a decade plus too early. michael keaton, on the other hand, never really cut it for me as batman. the guy can't brood. wrinkling your forehead and pursing your lips all the time isn't brooding, it just looks like you have a slight headache, and "billionaire playboy" just isn't a weapon in his arsenal. the bruce wayne i know would damn sure know what vichyssoise is. he looks befuddled more often than haunted or conflicted. at least he looks good in the suit. ultimately, i just don't like this much silliness or whimsy with my caped crusader. it's a real shame because there are hints of darkness running through this one that you don't see again until nolan takes over. if he could have committed to that fully it might have been better but, unfortunately, tim burton only seems to know one way.

and, bringing us home, as she ought to, is dolly parton in henry winkler's a smoky mountain christmas (1986).

well, it wouldn't be appropriate if we didn't end this week with a little bit of made-for-television holiday lunacy that attempts to graft christmas onto snow white. first things first - i am of the considered opinion that if you don't like dolly parton you are just an asshole. that being said, this movie is out of its cotton-picking mind. dolly plays, get this, a popular country music star. she is disillusioned with the glitz and glamour that are pushing out the more down-home elements of the music so she decides to take a sabbatical to the smoky mountains where she will spend christmas and recharge her folksy batteries. the thing is, she doesn't tell anyone. she arrives at a cabin belonging to her friend only to discover that it has been commandeered by a ragtag group of seven orphans. of course, no one calls child protective services. instead, they hole up together and spend a week writing songs that teach valuable lessons and keeping the law and an enterprising paparazzo at bay. in the meantime, they are menaced by a mountain man that turns out to be the six million dollar man that turns out to be a lawyer that turns out to be prince charming and by a "witch woman" who feeds dolly a hexed pie that puts her into a sleep from which she might never awaken. yes, you read that right. they turn the tables on the witch, however, and attempt to bust the kids out of the children's home they have been put in. they are captured by the police and brought before judge john ritter, who is having such a ball with how ridiculous the material is that he might as well be winking straight at the camera. dolly realizes mid-hearing that she wants to adopt this crazy bunch and judge john ritter decides what the hell, it's christmas! god bless us, everyone! once again, the sincerity thing goes a long way but this is really pushing it. if this starred anyone but dolly parton it would fall flat on its batshit crazy face. credit her genuineness and strength of personality for making me think it would actually be fun to be sitting at that christmas dinner table as the credits begin to roll. joe turner, who curated last month's queue for me, has coined the phrase "the new camp" to apply to all manner of over-the-top, out-of-its-tree wretched cinematic excess. well, merry christmas, buddy. we have just found what is sure to become a christmas tradition in the turner household.

and so, my week ends weirdly and with obvious commercial breaks. it could have gone no other way. i'll be back tomorrow with one last wrap-up. i am sure i will have quite a few things to say. in the meantime, what is the opposite of christmas? whatever it is, that's what i am going to do now.


  1. a smoky mountain christmas is the last one kate provided me. it is not available for streaming.

  2. "if you don't like dolly parton you're an asshole".... i love you.

  3. now that i think of it, batman returns isn't streaming either.

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  5. Cole, I'm severely disappointed in your review of THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE OF ALL TIME.

    That said, you nailed John Ritter, and I should add that I've never heard a more ridiculous Southern accent. You forgot to mention the fabulous sleigh chase!

  6. well, when you beat me mercilessly for a week the big finish can be lackluster.