Keaton Off The Deep End (feat. Billy Yost & Alison Macor)
Once Batman, now Birdman, Michael Keaton either became world famous by accident, and then went missing on purpose, or the other way around. The 68-year-old actor’s circuitous career is marked by distinct eras — from zany ‘80s comedies, to block-busting New Hollywood fare, to 15 pretty lean years, to a comeback in 2014.
On this week’s show, we watched three films where Keaton plays his favorite concerto — losing his mind on camera. It’s Birdman (2014), Beetlejuice (1988) and Mr. Mom (1983). Joining in to make us smarter are two guests: Keaton fanatic and The Kickback frontman Billy Yost and film historian Alison Macor, who just released a biography of the screenwriter of both Beetlejuice and Batman.
For your hosts’ part, an argument ensues. Is Michael Keaton’s weirdness a net positive for his movies? Check out the timestamps below if you want to skip around!
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To start – Noah quickly recaps the wedding of our previous episode’s guest, and Chance flounders for anyone who’s had a similar career to Michael Keaton. Noah calls Michael Keaton “creepy” the first of many times to follow.
8 minutes – Your hosts try to see through the blinding light of Birdman’s visual style to assess what’s really going on in the 2014 Oscar winner. Is it insightful or merely snappy?
27 minutes – Billy Yost joins Chance to discuss why he’s been posting pictures of Michael Keaton on his band’s Facebook page for as long as Facebook and The Kickback have existed. (The Kickback’s sophomore album Weddings & Funerals is out now, and it’s stellar.)
45 minutes – Noah is baffled by Beetlejuice — the movie, the character, the title. He cannot understand Beetlejuice. Chance presents his reasons for finding Tim Burton’s insane 1988 film actually touching. They at least agree on the fact that movie has no idea what to do with Keaton.
1 hour, 1 minute – Alison Macor is the author of the new biography Rewrite Man, and she joins the show to discuss her book and the forgotten life of the screenwriter who elevated Batman, found a passion project in Beetlejuice, and saved Top Gun. (Buy Alison’s book here, and check out Chance’s review of it in PopMatters here.)
1 hour, 17 minutes – Your hosts wrap up with 1983’s Mr. Mom (streaming now on Amazon). The second film from John Hughes finds Keaton in a very dated family reversal comedy. Noah and Chance argue even more about whether Michael Keaton’s weirdness is good.
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Movie Reviews & Reappraisals
Be Reel is a movie reviewing & reappraising podcast hosted by Chance Solem-Pfeifer and Noah Ballard.
Each time out, we select three movies based around a genre and call up guests ranging from submarine captains to Oscar winners. Then, we rate the movies, weighing both technical quality and entertainment.
Noah and Chance are old friends who mostly respect each other’s opinions. Even though Chance is a fool and a traitor. Find their show presented at ThePlaylist.Net and follow them on Twitter for the latest on Noah’s literary agenting and Chance’s work in the Portland arts scene.