Side by Side (2012) (Not Rated)
Though the casual moviegoer may not realize it when they go to the theater—the images he sees on the screen had to be passed by the director and a question had to be answered: film or digital? There are those who stick close to film and try to protect it from the radically changing world of digital film making; but "Side by Side" and the viewer agree that these people might be fighting a loosing battle.
To put into perspective the 'film vs digital' argument, take for example the Coen brothers' newest movie "Inside Llewyn Davis". This highly anticipated, almost shoe-in for Oscar nominations has been broadcasted as the team's last film filmed with film...that was redundant.
Directors go into temper tantrums when you threaten to take away their chemical film. Tarantino has sworn that he will never work when film is obsolete. Nolan praises film's ability and Malick shows us what the chemical process can do...I mention Malick because I consider him to be the greatest visual director of our age.
Film looks better, or looked better. Now that the digital age has rapidly consumed every street corner and movie theater, it's safe to say that people have mastered digital film making.
But it wasn't always this way...digital film making is still a baby.
Consider that 1998's "The Celebration" was the first film to be shot entirely on digital cameras. Anthony Dod Mantle is the pioneer behind this historic choice, though he thought it would be the nail in his coffin. When director Danny Boyle saw "The Celebration", he knew that he had seen the future. The two teamed up for the zombie hit "28 Days Later" and in 2009, Mantle won the Oscar for cinematography—becoming the first to do so while filming primarily with digital technology.
"Slumdog Millionaire" opened a door for film makers everywhere. It proved that digital technology could rival and beat out chemical film.
So how did we get here?
"Side by Side" is a very, very intelligent documentary whose only problem lies with its interviewer, Keanu Reeves. Reeves here is a shifting character, even for "being himself". He is platonic is some scenes, like when he is interviewing Anne V. Coates (the Oscar winning editor of "Lawrence of Arabia") on her transition from film to digital. In others (perhaps due to his comfort level), he's much more opinionated and shouty. All-in-all, director Christopher Kenneally, slyly gives Reeves the time that he needs on screen while making it bearable for the viewer to listen to him ramble.
If it's not self-evident, I should state that I'm not a huge fan of Keanu Reeves...or seafood...just thought you should know.
"Side by Side" is educational without feeling instructive. To be fair, the film is probably boring to those not interested in how movies are made—but for those who are, it's completely fascinating.
Instead of looking inside the cameras and seeing how they work, Kenneally takes us on a history of film itself.
The digital age faced problems as it got its feet; but support from George Lucas helped boost the technology from infancy to.....adulthood? Probably a bad analogy, but too late now.
Gathered on this film are some of the most respected names in film making: David Lynch, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Steven Sodergergh, James Cameron, and many others. "Side by Side" is not completely exclusive, including interviews with indie film makers like Lena Dunham.
It was a surprise to not see Steven Spielberg, since most of his films were quoted in "Side by Side".
If you're looking to learning about DI coloring and other such forgotten departments in film, look no further—"Side by Side" is your movie.
In the end, Kenneally is very clever because he only hints at what "Side by Side" is shot on. But then again, what's the point in wondering? The whole gist of the movie is that pictures are about the stories they tell...not how they're told.
"Side by Side" is quite good, and I certainly feel smarter now...hopefully that illusion will pass.
Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4
Posted by Micah Jones