Tribeca 2012 Review: SIDE BY SIDE
SIDE BY SIDE is a highly informative and thoroughly entertaining documentary covering the very timely topic of digital vs. film. And it is hosted by Keanu Reeves. No, seriously. Even more shocking is that he does a pretty damn good job interviewing the likes of Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Robert Rodriguez, David Fincher, Chris Nolan, James Cameron, Lars von Trier, Stephen Soderbergh, George Lucas and many more. There are a few moments where he gives single word responses to his interview subjects in a way that seems like he is parodying an early 90s version of himself, but those few times just add a bit of humor to an already funny documentary. And yes it is quite funny. Many of the interviewees give humorous answers but the funniest moments stem from whenever David Lynch appears on screen. There is just something absolutely hysterical about the way he keeps dropping “Keanu” in his answers.
From a technical standpoint, this is a very well put together documentary. It covers almost every topic that can be brought up when discussing digital technology vs. film. I was a bit disappointed that they skipped over 20 years of video cameras prior to mini-dv but it is clear the doc had a more mainstream focus. It still would have been interesting to see some discussion on video nasties from the 80s such as REDNECK ZOMBIES that were among the first to be shot digitally way before the Dogma 95 films that this doc uses as a reference point. Despite the omission, nearly everything else is covered including arguments that I have not even heard before even though I have read quite a bit on this subject. The doc even spends a lot of time with editors, colorists and cinematographers to get their opinions on digital technology and these interviews often bring up the most interesting points
One other nitpicky criticism I have is that there really is very little side-by-side comparison footage. There are dozens of clips from movies shot both digitally and on film, which made viewing the doc on the big screen such a joy. But there isn’t much shown side-by-side which I found odd because of the film’s title. As I said, a very nitpicky criticism. Seeing those classic clips from some of my favorite films, even if just for a few seconds, really made viewing this in a theater a fantastic experience. It also makes me hope this doc gets a proper Blu-Ray release when it comes out.
It may not be so engrossing for everyone but if you have any interest at all in filmmaking or technology, I definitely recommend seeking this film out.