Samuel Beckett: Film (1965), Notfilm (2015)

“In 1964, the great playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett began his only venture into cinema. The twenty-two-minute Film, as it was eventually titled, was a collaborative effort of formidable talents. Directed by Alan Schneider, the premiere American interpreter of Beckett’s plays, it starred silent comedian Buster Keaton, was photographed by On the Waterfront (1954) cinematographer Boris Kaufman, and produced by Barney Rosset, legendary founder of Grove Press, the first US publisher of Beckett and such other figures of the European avant-garde as Genet and Ionesco. … Problems with conception and execution aside, the great comic himself is utterly out of his element—and I don’t mean that philosophically. The world of Film, its restless moving camera and play with point-of-view notwithstanding, is curiously static—in fact, not filmic, the only realm in which Keaton’s poker face and physical dynamics work. But if Film’s reputation has not improved with time, its artistic pedigree justifies its recent restoration by film restorer par excellence Ross Lipman and Milestone films, as well as the expansive attention Lipman gives its making in his first feature-length documentary, aptly titled Notfilm. Presenting or alluding to more geniuses or wannabe geniuses per square foot than any doc in recent memory, Notfilm includes behind-the-scenes material, rare audio tapes of Beckett and Schneider speaking, photographs, and contemporary interviews with several figures relevant to the project. All have wonderful memories to share, including Rosset himself; the amiable and invaluable film historian Kevin Brownlow; Alan Schneider’s widow Jean; cinematographer and filmmaker Haskell Wexler; the wonderful James Karen, one of the only other actors in Film; and, perhaps most memorably and movingly, the late British actress Billie Whitelaw, known for her riveting incarnations of Beckett protagonists in such works as Happy Days and Rockaby. To understand her intuitive grasp of Beckett’s world and the unpretentiousness with which she embodied it is to know exactly what is missing from Film. …”
W – Film (film), W – Notfilm
Criterion: FILM and NOTFILM
YouTube: Samuel Beckett & Alan Schneider – Film (1965), NOTFILM by Ross Lipman

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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