If you can get past the halting way in which Keanu Reeves narrates this thing, Side by Side is a really enjoyable trip through the history of filmmaking with a lot of different filmmakers offering diverse opinions on film vs. digital, visual effects, to 3D or not to 3D, and the importance of archiving.
And so it goes: James Cameron goes on about how awesome digital and 3D is (as if you didn’t see that coming), George Lucas takes credit for making everything look better, Martin Scorsese wrestles with the differences between the two mediums, David Lynch declares he’ll never go back to film, Christopher Nolan swears digital can’t ever replicate how cool film is, Robert Rodriguez says he couldn’t have made Sin City without digital, David Fincher loves how portable digital is, Andy & Lana Wachowski are sold on the digital revolution (shocking), Danny Boyle admits it would have been harder to make both 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire with clunky film cameras, Joel Schumacher says something-something, Steven Soderbergh has a lot of opinions, and Lars Von Trier is—Lars Von Trier’ian.
Bonus: The amazing Greta Gerwig! And a super brief appearance by Lena Dunham near the end. Plus, listening to Keanu ask questions and talk about acting (a little bit) is actually kind of cool. Who knew?
What all this means is that if you’re a film nerd, you are IN ABSOLUTE HEAVEN (hand up!) while watching this, totally enamored of every word, and thrilled about hearing the debate. And if even if you’re not-so-much—it’s still pretty cool. They do a great job explaining all the processes of both film and digital in pretty simple terms, so as not to bore the regular folk who might be watching.
Director Christopher Kenneally weaves a smart commentary together, punctuated by the difference in processing film and instant digital dailies, the evolving face of editing, and some straight-up beautiful dissolves and clips from both mediums.
Simply lovely, all around. Definitely recommended for anybody who loves film!