Side by Side
First of all, a round of applause for filmmaker Christopher Kenneally for gathering together a Live Aid of directors, actors, producers and cinematographers for this film vs. digital documentary. The only big names noted for their absence would be Spielberg, because it's Spielberg, and Mann, because his Collateral is deemed one of the best examples the new form of filmmaking can offer.
So which side of the fence do you sit on? Do you marvel at the warmth of Lean's Lawrence of Arabia or are you excited about the possibilities Avatar has raised? Side By Side, presented by Keanu Reeves, explores the positives and negatives (pun intended) of both forms. Reeves, by the way, makes it known where his loyalties lie and his conversation with the Wachowskis is a stimulating one.
There are surprises ahoy when directors you'd expect are fans of film pop up declaring their love for digital (David Lynch exclaims, "I think I'm done with film!"). Surprises too when the outspoken digital advocate David Fincher reckons that watching film dailies a day after shooting can be a ‘betrayal,' as what he thought he shot wasn't what turned up on screen. Directors like Fincher like the idea that what they see on the monitor will be what we see in the cinema. Others like the surprise of what yesterday's shoot brought.
Scorsese, Rodriguez, Lars Von Trier, Steven Soderbergh, James Cameron, Joel Schumacher, Danny Boyle, Richard Linklater, George Lucas and many more all appear with really interesting things to say, regardless of which way they're leaning. Actors weigh in too. John Malkovich welcomes digital as he finds it frustrating on set when he wants to go for another take quickly, but Indie queen Greta Gerwig despairs that digital has heralded a culture of watching movies on iPhones. There's also the worry than when the likes of the pretty but ultimately empty Avatar, Attack of the Clones and Speed Racer are hailed as the future, then the future could be a bleak one.
It's short, it's an info paradise without overloading the audience and manages to be accessible to those unfamiliar with the differences between film and digital while appeasing those more knowledgeable, as it can get quite techy in places.
Review by Gavin Burke | 14:52 | Friday 8th February 2013 | Movie Review
Yeah, when I first saw the line up for this film, I thought to myself "How the hell can they do a documentary on digital filmmaking without Michael Mann, one of the pioneers of the medium?" I mean, he did Robbery Homicide Divison on DV when everyone told him not to, and then Collateral, where his DP walked off the set because he was convinced it wouldn't work. He even wrote a letter to American Cinematographer criticising Mann. Of course, then the film came out and it looked amazing. Miami Vice and Public Enemies too, whatever you think about them as films, both LOOK extraordinary. I would actually place Mann above Cameron in the evolution of digital filmmaking, so to not have him in this is ridiculous.Posted 02:48 | Thu 14th Feb 2013
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