ADiff review: Notfilm lets Samuel Beckett speak
Ross Lipman’s doc makes interesting connections and assertions
Film Title: Notfilm
Director: Ross Lipman
Starring: Buster Keaton, Billie Whitelaw
Running Time: 128 min
Light House Cinema, Saturday 20th, 6.30pm, 128 min
Film, Samuel Beckett’s sole excursion into the medium, was, by the playwright’s own account, a failure. But as this extensive kino-essay from Ross Lipman demonstrates, it remains a fascinating curio.
Notfilm casts a wide net to encompass work from Buñuel, Vertov, Vigo, Eisenstein, and Chaplin, as it outlines Beckett’s purpose, namely cod intellectual jousting against George Berkeley’s notion: “esse est percipi aut percipere” (to be is to be perceived or to perceive). Lipman, the senior film restorationist at UCLA Film & Television Archive, makes interesting connections and assertions about doppelgängers, animal consciousness and everything in-between. If anything, Notfilm could be more selective in its focus: an interview with producer Barney Rosset in his dotage serves no purpose; Billie Whitelaw’s account of performing Not I is interesting but wholly off-topic; an anecdote about the drinking habits of Buster Keaton is similarly superfluous. Still, Notfilm offers Beckett academics a rare chance to hear the man speak and Lipman’s investigation is commendably rigorous.