Side By Side, the terrific, widely-praised documentary with interviews by one of its producers, Keanu Reeves, has been available On Demand for a few weeks and is has just opened in New York – an event that offers your very own counterpart to the movie’s unexpectedly fascinating debate about film vs. digital technology. Do you watch at home or go old-school and actually visit a theater?
I’ve seen it twice on big screens, but I imagine that it works either way. Ironically, Side By Side is not so much about the visuals but about the intriguing, provocative, thoughtful answers Reeves gets from the best filmmakers and cinematographers – Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, David Lynch, Steven Soderbergh, the list goes on. Few of them cling to old-style film, and Side by Side makes it clear that even the possibility of shooting on film may be obsolete sooner than you imagine.
Directed by Chris Kenneally, the film is beautifully compact at 99 minutes, which means that a lot of first-rate material didn’t make it in. But the Tribeca Film site has a great selection of outtakes called “Side Swipes,” which it has been posting all month. Here are a few of the best:
LENA DUNHAM has a smart, generational view of a crucial question: when does on multi-tasking become ADD?
GRETA GERWIG has one of the wittiest takes on how digital can replace and imitate film – when it’s good, it’s like successful cosmetic surgery. You can’t tell it happened.
LANA AND ANDY WACHOWSKI talk about how editing and technology have always been central to movies. How do you think screen performances are created? (Lana has such Raggedy Ann hair, it makes you wish her brother would go for a Raggedy Andy wig, but ... beside the point.)
DAVID FINCHER reminds us that characters in a thriller don’t know they’re in a thriller.
ELLEN KURAS, the cinematographer whose works includes Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, picks up one of Side By Side’s major themes: the preservation of digital films (tougher than you think).
STEVEN SODERBERGH, always experimenting and playing with form and technique, just assumes that’s what filmmakers do. If only.
You can see many more Side Swipes at TribecaFilm.com