Thursday, 19 February 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1982: Michael Keaton in Night Shift

Michael Keaton did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Bill "Blaze" Blazejowski in Night Shift.

Night Shift is an decent enough comedy about a nebbish morgue attendant Chuck (Henry Winkler) who after taking over the night shift finds himself getting involved in the world of prostitution.

Night Shift was Michael Keaton's first substantial role in a film. His role technically is a bit of a well worn one that being the comedic side kick who is foil to the main character. Keaton plays Bill who is the new attendant on the night shift just as Chuck becomes the supervisor of it. As I wrote in my review of Keaton's great performance in Birdman that Michael Keaton is an actor I usually like anyways even though the films he's in are not always great. Well Night Shift is in that vein, although I'd say its certainly better than many films in Keaton's filmography. Keaton has a challenge with Bill Blazejowski though in that it is very easy to see how the character could have been extremely grating with a different actor in the role, thankfully for the film though it is indeed Michael Keaton in the part. Michael Keaton has such a wonderfully off beat screen presence that is perfect for a part like this as Bill is suppose to be obviously quite an off-beat sorta guy, particularly in his way of doing his job which is to dress informally, listen to music constantly and run a limousine service using the morgue vehicles.

Keaton is great from the start because Keaton whole manner onscreen makes the various quirks about Bill seem particularly naturally rather than a checklist of wacky sidekick characteristics which he very well might have been. Keaton actually manages to be far more endearing than obnoxious in portraying Bill's method of constantly talking at Chuck without really waiting for any sort of response from him. Keaton brings his unique style of energy though that really makes this work in his favor while still realizing why he might annoy Chuck. Keaton though early on has a moment where there is a possibility for a bit more depth for Bill when Chuck chews him out telling him basically to stop talking and leave him alone. Keaton's reaction is great and surprisingly moving as he shows just how hurt Bill is by the rejection. Keaton portrays an honest sensitivity in Bill as his only response is that to tell Chuck that he thought they were friends. Keaton in this brief scene is really quite good in suggesting that Bill's personality in part is that he is kind trying to win someone over at any point.

Now to be sure most of his performance is about being funny as the film shows Bill constantly scheming and eventually convinces Chuck to basically use the morgue as an office for prostitution as the two of them will act as pimps. One thing that Keaton does so well is bring such a pleasant earnestness in this scheming. There is no malice in Keaton depiction of Bill's technically somewhat unsavory scheme as Keaton has a whole excessively optimistic naivety towards the enterprise. Of course much of his performance is kinda boiled down to the one liners, which is fine since Keaton executes them with such comic precision. Even when he's barely part of the scene Keaton steals it, such as when he reacts to Chuck having slept with one of the prostitutes, Keaton's surprised look is absolutely hilarious. Keaton does not miss an opportunity and I found myself laughing pretty much whenever Keaton bothered to open his mouth. Keaton though when is given a bit more focus is equally funny such as his brilliantly, almost deadpan, speech as Bill rather ineptly lines out the whole prostitution project for the prostitutes.

Keaton is constantly amusing here with such an ease of his performance as Keaton keeps that relaxed style of performance which works so well. He manages to make Bill a particularly likable screwball actually and not at all the annoying or forced presence these types of characters can often be. Keaton even has a particularly dramatic moment where Bill talks about the mistreatment of his father, not unlike a moment in Birdman actually, a coincidence, I don't  know maybe, anyway Keaton once again is surprisingly moving shifting to the more dramatic tone with such ease while giving some poignant depth to the character that does not seem out of character. Keaton takes that and makes feel wholly natural to the rest of Bill and manages to even convey the idea of how that might actually cause Bill's behavior. This is quite a strong comic performance by Michael Keaton. Every joke big or small Keaton tries to get whatever he can out of it, and often he gets quite a lot. He is able to enliven every scene he is in, and really this is just delightful work from start to finish.

18 comments:

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Awesome. Louis, what do you think of Keaton as a future Bond villain? Idea just popped into my head and won't go away.

Matt Mustin said...

What are your thoughts and rating for him in The Other Guys?

RatedRStar said...

ohh =D not long to go now, will Keaton win that darn Oscar, =D.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Though I still love Redmayne's performance and I wouldn't mind his win, Keaton's brilliance in Birdman is undeniable and I hope he wins, if only to avoid the inevitable storm of rants on here.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Any more retroactive castings people? The comments section has been a bit dormant lately

Whiplash (1960s)
Tom Courtenay as Andrew
Rod Steiger as Fletcher

Brief Encounter (1990s)
Ralph Fiennes as Alec
Kristin Scott Thomas as Laura





RatedRStar said...

@Donald:

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (2010s)
Tom Hardy - Ned Land
Ralph Fiennes - Captain Nemo
Sam Rockwell (he is adorable so why not) - Conseil
Christoph Waltz - Professor Pierre Aronnax

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (1960s)
Tatsuya Nakadai - Chow Yun Fats role
Machiko Kyō - Zhang Ziyis role
Setsuko Hara - Michelle Yeohs role
Tsutomu Yamazaki - Chang Chens role
Toshiro Mifune - Sihung Lungs role

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Fine

1960's Inception:

Cobb - Rock Hudson
Arthur - Montgomery Clift
Eames - Laurence Harvey
Mal - Sophia Loren
Saito - Sessue Hayakawa
Ariadne - Audrey Hepburn

1990's A Most Violent Year:

Abel - Antonio Banderas
Anna - Bridget Fonda

Louis Morgan said...

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar:

I'd love to see Keaton as a Bond villain.

Matt:

Keaton - 4(The best part of that film. I don't even know if his material is really anything too special, but Keaton's spin on it more than makes up for any discrepancies. Also they really should have just used all of the material from his Bed Bath and Beyond scene since every second of that is great thanks to Keaton)

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar:

Inglourious Basterds (1940's):

Aldo Raine: John Wayne
Hans Landa: Claude Rains
Archie Hicox: James Mason
Donny Donowitz: Kirk Douglas
Bridget von Hammersmark: Marlene Dietrich
Shosanna Dreyfus: Vera Clouzot
Major Hellstrom: Basil Rathbone

Glengarry Glen Ross (Now British Version):

Levene: Jeremy Irons
Roma: Colin Farrell
Blake: Ralph Fiennes
Moss: Mark Strong
Aaronow: Ben Kingsley
Williamson:Domhnall Gleeson

John Smith said...

Ratings/Toughts Antonio Banders in Under The Skin.

luke higham said...

John Smith: He hasn't seen it.

RatedRStar said...

Claude Rains as Hans Landa ohh Louis you do make me smile =D.

I would like to think that Domnall Gleeson could definitely become as good as, or at least close to his father, surely there must be something in the genes that says he will be a good actor and one for the future alongside Hardy and Fassy =D.

Michael Patison said...

Think if O'Toole were still alive. He'd make an astonishing Levene recast!

Anyway, on an unrelated note, what is everybody's favorite book (novel, biography, whatever) and/or favorite author.

My favorite novel is The Remains of the Day and Ishiguro is my favorite author as well.

luke higham said...

Michael Patison: Favourite Author: Leo Tolstoy, Tolkien's a close second
Favourite Book: The Lord Of The Rings or War and Peace.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, how would you rank the performances of Guy Pearce that you've reviewed?

Michael McCarthy said...

In Bruges (2008 American cast):

Ray: Bradley Cooper
Ken: Bryan Cranston
Harry: Tom Cruise
Chloe: Alice Eve

Kevin said...

Hey Louis, I just recently rewatched Fury, and I am really interested in your thoughts on Pena and Bernthal's performances, as well as who you would have rather cast as Wardaddy instead of Pitt (although I do think Pitt could have pulled off the performance with better direction)

RatedRStar said...

I just had a nice laugh reading a certain link that a certain Michael McCarthy recieved called Oscar Rewrites =D.

Anyone who thinks that Robert De Niro should have won Best Supporting Actor for Meet The Parents, Sean Penn for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Jamie Foxx in Ray, and Tom Hanks in Philadelphia has well, obviously banged their head on something and they forgot the different between good acting and overacting =D.

At least Claude Rains received 2 wins (albeit the wrong ones)

Louis Morgan said...

Matt:

1. Memento
2. The Rover
3. L.A. Confidential
4. The Proposition
5. Ravenous

Kevin:

I thought Pena was close to being terrible in the role. Everything about his performance felt disingenuous to me. His role really was just relatively simple, but even with that Pena's performance did not work at all. He kinda went a grotesque route that felt more hammy than anything else, and I confess I did not care at all what happened to him by the end of the film.

Bernthal has the worst written role as his behavior is especially one note early in the film. The badness of the part does rub off a bit on him in the early scenes, but when the part became a little more complex I did feel he improved considerably.

I agree Pitt could have been great, as he's an actor who just kinda randomly goes on and off. I think Matthew McConuaghey would likely have been amazing in that role.