Side by Side: The Science, Art and Impact of Digital Cinema
PRODS Keanu Reeves, Justin Szlasa
SCR Christopher Kenneally
CAM Chris Cassidy
EDS Mike Long, Malcolm Hearn
MUS Brendan Ryan
PROD CO Company Films
There are quarrels that are certain to be provoked by Chris Kenneally’s new documentary, Side by Side, which explores the impact of digital technology on 21st-century moviemaking, but one thing is beyond argument. For a film geek this movie is absolute heaven, a dream symposium in which directors, cinematographers, editors and a few actors gather to opine on the details of their craft. It is worth a year of film school and at least 1,000 hours of DVD bonus commentary.
Guided by an affable and knowledgeable Keanu Reeves, viewers are escorted onto sets and into editing bays, shown clips both esoteric and familiar, and invited to examine a lot of cool hardware. Auteurists and gadget fetishists will be equally enraptured. Not only do you get to sit at the feet of Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan and other heroes of modern cinema. You also get to check out the latest high-definition cameras from Panavision, Arriflex, Canon and Red.
The gee-whiz aspects of Side by Side are integral to its argument. The film is not quite an exercise in pro-digital propaganda. Skeptics as well as enthusiasts are heard from, and the virtues of old-fashioned celluloid are duly praised. But as is so often the case with digital technology of all kinds—the tablet, the mp3, the Internet itself—the discourse tilts toward triumphalism… The tried and true always has trouble competing with the shiny and new, which in this case offers convenience and portability as well as up-to-the-minute coolness. There is something inherently appealing about belonging to the party of progress, and quite a few of the cinema artists Mr. Reeves interviews make their preferences for pixels and CGI sound like matters of principle.—A.O. Scott, The New York Times