ADiff review: Notfilm lets Samuel Beckett speak

Ross Lipman’s doc makes interesting connections and assertions

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Director: Ross Lipman
Cert: Club
Genre: Documentary
Starring: Buster Keaton, Billie Whitelaw
Running Time: 2 hrs 8 mins

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.

Can't see this? Try newshound drama Truth, starring Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett, Cineworld 8, 6.30pm

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic