FILM / All white on the night: In the first of a short series on seasonal themes, Sheila Johnston considers snow in the movies, and offers a how-to guide

Nobody ever said that there's no business like snow business. In Christopher Guest's Hollywood spoof The Big Picture, the bright young film-maker played by Kevin Bacon arrives in Hollywood with a sombre emotional drama set in a snow-locked country cabin. But, as compromise closes in on him, it becomes clear that his idea stands . . . well, a snowflake's chance in hell. The studio's D- boys and girls hone the script into something more commercially acceptable, and his concept melts away into Beach Nuts, a bikini- clad comedy.

Wannabee Catwoman? Didn't we all . . .: Kimberley Leston on the cartoon character with everything: looks, power, brains, and (originally) pointy ankle boots

THESE things are never written in stone, of course, but it is probably safe to predict that few ordinary women will be seen going about their daily business in the coming months wearing made-to-measure replicas of Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman outfit. An emporium in Camden, north London, is doing off-the-peg versions in rubber but, astounding though they are, these require guts and the right measurements for optimum impact. Never mind. We devoted fans of the Fabulous Feline do not have to buy the suit in order to feel her influence surging through our veins. Contrary to popular opinion, the reason Catwoman dominates Batman Returns is not entirely because of Michelle Pfeiffer's mouth. It is because of Catwoman herself.

Fashion Update: Belt up and be thin

WHETHER or not it was inspired by Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman costume in Batman Returns, the Thinning Belt brings a new dimension to bondage wear. Made from black neoprene (the rubber used to make divers' suits), it is designed to be worn under clothes and is intended for medicinal rather than kinky purposes. 'The idea,' says Tanya Morgan, its sales director, 'is that you get slightly, er, moist, not sweaty, and lose weight.' Ms Morgan claims to have shed one and a half inches from her waistline in one day, 'though it doesn't necessarily stay off'. Anyone desperate for new experiences (this one costs pounds 9.99) can obtain more information by calling 071-267 2268.

Cinema raid

(First Edition)

FILM / Kerpow] that only goes Phiz

WHAT does Batman do all day? Hang around in the cave of his home, apparently, frowning a lot. He plays with toys and computer games, like a spoilt teenager, or prepares for battle with new enemies like Catwoman and The Penguin. But mostly he just thinks. That's how we first see him in Batman Returns, which, like the earlier Batman, is directed by Tim Burton. Michael Keaton again stars as the millionaire weirdo with a wardrobe full of hoods; if he hadn't been a superhero, he would have made a pretty good hangman.

BATFAX / Kapow] The impact of a hit: Sheila Johnston counts the cost of the return of Batman to the cinema

JUST how much is the Dark Knight worth? In 1989 Batman garnered dollars 251m in US ticket sales and around dollars 140m overseas. Forecasts for Batman Returns vary. Each week Variety asks a range of industry insiders, from agents to producers to attorneys, to rate the prospects for a major new film. Prior to its release nobody expected Batman Returns to surpass the original: their estimates ranged from dollars 250m down to dollars 175m.

FILM / Rubber soul, plastic passion: Tim Burton's Batman Returns reviewed - The rest of the week's new releases - Clocking the last detail

ONCE IN a great while, when facing a difficult choice or a crisis of conscience, Superman would retreat to his Fortress of Solitude for some severe introspection. On these special occasions, the Man of Steel took on the pose of Rodin's Thinker. Batman, on the other hand, first in the film of the same name, and now in Batman Returns (12), seems to regard his vigilante duties as interruptions of an existential brooding that is more or less continuous. The Batsign summons him to bouts of strenuous crime fighting that do not apparently alleviate his mood. In his insistent melancholy, despite an enviable life, he is more like Byron than Biggles.

Kerpow] Dynamic duo takes on Tinseltown

IT IS not altogether comforting to reflect that, exactly 216 years after this great nation declared itself independent, some Americans yesterday began their day with a bowl of Batman cereal.
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
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