.IMTIME OR KEATIN
ehind the lovable and loopy Annie Hall exterior Diane Keaton conceals a . She talked to Allan Hunter about two of its results.
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Even the most starstruck of tnovie buffs would acknowledge the boundaries between celluloid fantasy and everyday reality. Few cinema personalities project their larger than life image into their off-screen existence: (‘lint Eastwood does not stalk the streets in search of unlucky punks who will make his day and Sylvester Stallone is not an inarticulate human punchbag. One exception to this commonsense generality however is Diane Keaton: even in the middle of the precious atmosphere of a (‘annes press conference she is the living embodiment of her ()scar-winning character Annie Hall from an eccentrically individual dress sense (eye-mugging black and white polka dots abound) to a speech pattern that is generously punctuated with Annie-like wows. absolutelys and truncated sentences. strangled in midbirth by giggles. occasional doubts and then an affirmative right. yeah or sure. You know what I‘m saying?
Despite appearances to the contrary. and much to everyone's relief. Miss Keaton is not some empty-headed scatterbrain but a genuinely joyous individual whose talent has sought new avenues in recent years as she has added the accomplishments ofphotographer and director to her distinguished acting credentials. At the [987
(‘annes Festival she was responsible forthe Still Life exhibition of offbeat photos from the Hollywood publicity mill. and was in town to promote her first full-length feature as a director. Heaven is a quirky collage of interviews and old footage creating an impressionistic non-narrative of how a cross-section of Los Angeles inhabitants view the hereafter.
‘l've done these books and photographs and l‘ve always had an interest outside of acting and it sort ofgrew out of that.‘ she explains.‘ Immediately after making Beds. I guess in 1981. I made just a little 17 minute. 16mm film about my sister called What Does Dorrie Want." and this sort ofcame out of that. It actually happened because I took a trip with a friend and visited the Mormons in Utah and saw a film that depicted people in heaven and I thought ‘Ah. this is very strange indeed‘ so I thought I would like to do a film about that if I could. Originally the film started to be just a small film. like 50 minutes for television. and it sort of grew and grew as we collected more and more film and now we have this large film. Larger than we imagined. So. that‘s it.‘
Heaven explores the iconography of the Hollywood view of the after life. interspersed with individual. usually grossly materialistic. visions
of what people expect to encounter. It is a very personal project.‘ I didn‘t set out to do a mainstream film. It's for sotnc people and not for others. I think it‘s a little film and not something that’s representative of all America. I was just happy to do it and didn't think about what might happen to it afterwards.‘ 'l‘he interviews were taped between November of 1984 and February. 1085 although the time—consuming process ofediting it into a seamless whole occupied Keaton for a further eighteen months. ()f necessity. her acting career took a back seat and among the casualties was Bill Forsyth's Housekeeping where she was originally to play the leading role as the eccentric aunt. She erupts with an apparently characteristic burst of spontaneous enthusiasm: ‘l le‘s the greatest. isn‘t he'.’ I think he's a great director. The whole thing was a mess. lcouldn‘t finish this film. couldn‘t get it done. We had trouble financing Housekeeping. It went on for years and unfortunately it just didn't work out but he did make it which is great and I think it‘s a wonderful idea. Wonderful.‘
Whilst preoccupied with Heaven. Keaton did manage the time to film a singing cameo for Woody Allen's Radio Days and complete a role in the Southern-fried drama (‘rimes of the Heart. It was whilst in mid-air. en route to the ('rimes‘ locations that she
read and fell in love with the script of her latest acting assignment Baby Boom.‘ Here I was all by myself. and laughing out loud. Realistic
comedies. especially ones written for
women. don‘t come along very often. This is about a career woman who inherits a baby and the charactcrofJ. (‘. Wiatt really touched tne and moved inc emotionally. I felt for her. My character is a confident and successful woman when the film opens. But after this baby invades her controlled life. she falters for the first time. and it throws her way off balance and makes her tnore loving and lovable. By the end of the film. she‘s a richer. fuller human being. She still works. but she also has the capacity to love. It's the best possible combination.‘
(‘oming to Baby Boom. from a venture like Heaven in which she was always in personal control. seems to have been an easy rather than difficult acclimatisation for Keaton. "l‘his was a very different experience for me. I felt we were making a movie that was a team effort. with a lot of passion behind it. It gave the film so much energy. It‘s great for a comedy to have so much life.‘
In the film. Keaton‘s initially undesirable long distance inheritance is a 13 month-old baby. played on-screen by one-year-old twins. Despite the old adage that it is otin the ill-advised who will work with children. Keaton eagerly pitched in by helping to feed the duo. singing to them and generally keeping them amused. l'ltimatcly. the experience might even have enhanced her own performance.‘ lt was the most fun I've ever had. I felt completely relaxed with them because I'm a big baby myself. I think we sort of understood each other and it was great to be distracted by them because it forced me out of my own self-obsession and kept me spontaneous and alive.‘
Although unwilling to judge the influence that directing might have on her approach to acting. Keaton will reluctantly examine the possibility that one day she just might direct a dramatic piece. ‘( )h. llum. That really depends. I want to try to make a start by doing. you know. music videos to see if I can do it.‘
True to her word. Keaton has directed the visual accotnpanimcnt to the recent chart successes of Belinda ('arlisle As to the future. we might next see her in another unaccustomed role as producer. l let intention is to create a new version of The Blue Angel in which Marlene Dietrich came to international prominence as the alluring cabaret singer Lola Lola who ruins the life of an infatuated older admirer. Keaton‘s choice for the Lola l.ola of the 1980s? Madonna. ‘Just imagining her in that role seems right to me. I like the film because it has such a beautiful story and she seems perfect for it.” Yeah. um. there’s clearly. like. no end to this woman's talents. Absolutely.
Baby Boom opens at the ()deons' in Glasgow and Edinburgh on March 18. See ( 'inema Listings for Details.
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