Side By Side

Director: Christopher Kenneally

Starring: Keanu Reeves, George Lucas, James Cameron, Danny Boyle, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch

Written by: Christopher Kenneally

Running Time: 99 mins

Cert: 15

Release date: 15th February 2013

There was nothing like going into a cinema and hearing that  reassuring sound of a projector clicking continuously in the background as it threw light onto a screen and images bounced around. Those days seem to have long gone. Now, almost every cinema you go into is digital. The question is, what is the best format? Film or digital? That’s the question thrown up in this fascinating documentary in which Keanu Reeves interviews some of the best modern directors, cinematographers, editors and visual effects creators to come up with an answer.

From the early days of cinema, film has ruled the roost but in more recent time, more and more productions have been filmed using digital cameras and digital technology to tweak the productions. Does that make for a better movie experience? Or has it made film making an easier process and opened it up to allow more people to be able to communicate their stories through the medium?

What makes this film interesting, not only to the film buff like myself but to anyone who enjoys going to the movies, is the enthusiasm of some of the contributions. We do get a lesson in both the history of film and how a camera works and the long process of filming, developing and showing the dallies would take, compared to the speed and ease of digital, almost instantaneous. Some of the film makers argue that film is cumbersome and the equipment too is both heavy and awkward to use but the film fans, particularly the editors, find film a much easier format to use and manipulate.

The whole argument is brilliantly balanced and writer/director Christopher Kenneally manages to equate the pros and cons evenly, so while watching it you think to yourself, yes, film is better only to have your opinion changed, then changed back again. It flips both side of the coin extremely well.

What also is both interesting and a massive selling point for the film is Keanu Reeves. With his constant changing hairstyle and beard, he makes for a most engaging interviewer, with an obvious passion for the subject as well as a wealth of knowledge and heighten respect for the people he is talking to. As co-producer of the film, you understand his interest but you also get the feeling that he genuinely wants to get to the bottom of the argument.

Some of the more technical details seemed a little heavy handed but apart from that this is a more than engrossing documentary that actually shows you what it takes to make a movie far more than a “making of” documentary could ever do. And at the end of the film, the whole argument is brilliantly summed up by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, “If you do something that comes from the heart, it doesn’t matter what you are using!”

As a film fan, this is a must see. As a viewer going to the cinema, this is in insightful and interesting look at a world that seems alien to many.  Is digital the future? Personally, I hope not but whatever the means, I will still be a film fan as long as good story telling is out there.


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