16 August 2013 | bob the moo
Accessible, well-structured, engaging and interesting – a lively documentary that most films fans will appreciate
I tend to read proper film critics for their opinions not only on specific films but also essays on themes, genres, movements and so on; I consider myself a total amateur on such subjects but I find it interested to listen to those who are not. Coming to Side by Side I wasn't sure if it would be too dry for me to get into or if it would be too simplistic for me to stay interested in for just under two hours. The film essentially looks at the transition from celluloid to digital in film making – from filming through to post through to projection in the cinema and the means of delivery to the viewer. It is an ambitious goal but it is one that it does very well and in a way that flows and is accessible.
I guess that for those with a real good working knowledge of the technology and the process, it may be too simplistic but for the casual viewer and enjoyer of films, there is enough detail here to engage and interest, but not so much that I felt overwhelmed with technical detail that I wasn't interested in. The film is really made up of Reeves acting as interviewer with a range of people involved in all the various aspects of the process – directors, cinematographers, editors, camera manufacturers etc. and he does a decent job, but not a great job in this regard. Fortunately this is not really his main role because it certainly seems that as producer he has helped Kenneally get a lot of very famous people to agree to be in the film. This range of talent and opinion makes for an interesting film, so while we follow development of things over time, we tend to get both sides as the title suggests.
Most of the contributors are interesting and their soundbites are well edited and the film itself is put together very well so that it covers time and technology in a way that makes sense, engages and never outstays its welcome. It probably won't do much for the technical enthusiast but for fans of film and cinema it is very much worth seeing as entertainment and education.