Notfilm (2015) Poster

(2015)

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10/10
Highly Recommended Documentary About Film
Geofbob19 April 2017
Anybody interested in Samuel Beckett, Buster Keaton or simply literature and/or cinema will want to watch and possess this 2-disc set. Made by film restorer Ross Lipman, Notfilm is an extensive and intensive documentary about the production in 1964 New York of the short movie, Film, Beckett's only foray into the Seventh Art. Via a series of accidental, but seemingly fated, events, the mantle of leading and almost only actor in Film fell on the shoulders of Keaton, then poor in both funds and health. By a twist of irony straight out of Borges or Kafka, Keaton famous for his impassive face was required by Beckett's screenplay to keep that face out of shot for almost the entirety of the movie.

Lipman's documentary contains interviews with some of the principals of the 1964 production; archive material, including out-takes, and tapes of production meetings involving Beckett, director Alan Schneider and cinematographer Boris Kaufman; interviews with other relevant figures, especially actor James Karen who both appeared briefly in Film and had been instrumental in recruiting Keaton, actress Billie Whitelaw famed for her interpretations of Beckett's stage roles, and Beckett's biographer James Knowlson.

For me, two personal highlights of the DVDs are the sound of Beckett's rarely recorded voice in the production meeting tapes, higher pitched than one might have expected; and the interviews with a frail but still luminous Whitelaw. One sweetly sentimental postscript to the 1964 shoot was that it resulted in an acclaimed appearance by Keaton at the Cannes Film Festival, his first at such an event, and only a few months before his death.

Strictly speaking, one of the two discs is the actual documentary Notfilm; the other is bonus material; but both are of equal interest and essential viewing. The producer is Milestone Film & Video (who, in parallel have also issued a restored version of Film itself).
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10/10
A Masterful Cinema Essay
Lilcount6 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The cinema essay is a rare form. Few examples come to mind: Welles' "F for Fake," Scorsese's films on American and Italian cinema, some works by Marker, Godard, and Rossellini. The cupboard is not well stocked.

Ross Lipman's NOTFILM can stand with the best of them. It is so much more than a "making-of" documentary about what may seem a minor effort in the careers of four great artists: Buster Keaton and Boris Kaufman from film, Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider from theater. It is a profoundly personal meditation on the cinema and life, at once melancholy and exhilarating. Everything about this film is first-rate, from the selection of archival clips, to the narration (spoken by the director himself,)to the marvelous score.

To say more would be to deprive the reader of the thrill of discovering a most surprising work of film art. See it and judge for yourself.

Highest recommendation.
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9/10
Much more than a documentary...
klausming26 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Notfilm is a deeply thoughtful and intriguing "Kino Essay" of Samuel Beckett's 1965 experimental film that featured Buster Keaton, and was simply entitled "Film". Through the use of archival footage, in-depth back stories and character analyses, Lipman shines much-needed light on not only the meaning of Film, but Beckett's unrealized intentions in his one-and-only foray into moving pictures.

Though Film is described as a failed experiment, Notfilm convincingly argues that Beckett's own deeply personal issues with privacy and public perception are deeply embedded in his work. Surely to be of great interest to film and literary students as well as die-hard Buster Keaton fans, Notfilm is an important contribution to film analysis, and a must- own disc for my movie collection.
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1/10
A Waste of Time
arfdawg-121 March 2017
The Plot. NOTFILM is a feature-length experimental essay on FILM -- its author Samuel Beckett, its star Buster Keaton, its production and its philosophical implications -- utilizing additional outtakes, never before heard audio recordings of the production meetings, and other rare archival elements.

Wow what a pretentious load of garbage. Jerky Lipman narrative about nothing. That goes on and on with no direction for over 2 hours. This is a 20 minute movie expanded into a sleep fest.

Interviews with 900 year old clowns who remember nothing. This movie is a waste of video.
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1/10
Wow... this is pretty rugged...
drew-15518 August 2017
The only thing that's clear from this film is that the narrator loves to hear himself talk. Another reviewer calls this film pretentious. That's being kind. The title card calling his film "A Kino-Essay" is just the beginning of this self indulgent jerk fest. "Blaahh blahh I'm so smart I'll do all the talking because I'm a horrible filmmaker and my kino-essay is a mess". God I'm wasting my life watching and writing about this. WTF am I doing? If you watch this, bring a pillow and a bag of heroin so you kill the pain and nod off.
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5/10
Highly insightful research into a popular person creating nothing important.
scottc43920 August 2018
I give this film 10 stars for efforts to create (from found audio & video) a glimpse into two important individuals in american culture. I subtract 5 stars for the final product that drags us through such a vapid documentary. This film might be an example of what people in several decades would experience if attempting to interpret the thoughts and meanings of a singular tweet of a current notable luminary of 2015. Probably has tremendous importance to someone, somewhere, at some time but it is lost on the masses.
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