Cinejabber: 'Batman' back-to-back

Posted by · 1:56 pm · September 24th, 2011

Well, that’s one week in the books here at HitFix. I wanted to take a second to thank everyone for coming along with us on this huge change and for sticking with us through the growing pains. It’s been a crazy week for all of this, with Guy on leave for much of it, a screening every day (including two on Friday plus an interview), four hours of sleep a night, etc. But I think we’re roaring loud and strong here at the new digs.

And with that, I’m taking the rest of the day off! But I thought I’d get the weekend Cinejabber posts going first. This Saturday feature — for the uninitiated — is simply a chance for you to discuss whatever is on your mind that hasn’t really had a place elsewhere. Caught a movie that was released some time back and want to comment? Let us know here. Playing some awesome video game and you’re dying to share? Let us know — well, maybe don’t let us know. The last thing I need is an excuse to go buy something else to eat up my time! Basically, it’s an open thread and the floor is yours.

Usually I try to get things moving by offering up something that’s on my mind as of late. Today, that would be last night’s American Cinemateque double feature screening of Tim Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Returns” at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

Most who have read me for any length of time know my admiration for the former. I wrote about it at length on the film’s 20th anniversary two years ago. I couldn’t pass up the chance to see it projected one more time (I caught it on the big screen once in film school some years back). The latter I hadn’t seen in a theater since the summer of 1992, like most, I imagine.

Michael Uslan was in attendance, ostensibly to promote his new book, “The Boy Who Loved Batman.” During a pre-screening Q&A with Hero Complex‘s Geoff Boucher, Uslan mentioned something I had never heard before. But first, some quick background.

One of the coolest Oscar wins ever, to me, is Anton Furst’s victory for his brilliant designs on “Batman.” They stemmed from one line in Sam Hamm’s script, which read something like, “Gotham City: As if hell had erupted through the sidewalk and kept growing.” It was up to Furst and Burton to translate that, and the hard work paid off in the form of an Oscar win.

So Benjamin Melinker was walking with Uslan around the massive five square-block set built at London’s Pinewood Studios one day, and he was in awe. Here was a guy who cut his teeth on lavish MGM productions like “Dr. Zhivago,” “Gigi” and “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but he turned to Uslan that day and said, “I never thought I’d see sets more impressive than the ones on ‘Ben-Hur.'”

It was a grand time at the movies. So anyway, like I said, open thread. The floor is yours.

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