{2jtab: Movie Review}

Side By Side - Blu-ray Review


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4 stars

Digital or film?  Those are your choices for the future of moviemaking.  Do we fall forward or fall back and rely on the natural look of film to carry us into the future?  Discuss.  Chris Kenneally’s new documentary, Side by Side, is certain to heat up the conversation between film connoisseurs and critics alike.  Hosted by Keanu Reeves, this thought-provoking documentary covers the history of digital filmmaking and weighs its meteoric rise against the standard way Hollywood used to shoot their films.

The film is easily worth a year in film school.  With interviews about the craft of filmmaking from Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, James Cameron, David Fincher, Lars von Trier, Christopher Nolan and other heroes of modern cinema, Side by Side is a great tutoring vehicle in and of itself.  But don’t kid yourself, this is by no means a ra-ra-ra roundhouse kick to the head about the benefits of digital and 3D filmmaking.  Skeptics are heard from.  Concerns are voiced even as the latest high-definition cameras from Panavision, Arriflex, Canon and Red are displayed, dissected, and discussed.

Writer/director George Lucas, also interviewed, boldly predicted that digital filmmaking was the future and, with Attack of the Clones, he saw to it that digital was the only way Star Wars would be shot and screened.  The naysayers concerning the medium were quick to dispute him (and hang him in some circles) but – with the latest digital cameras mimicking the look of film better than actual film itself – even their attentions have been captured by the digital medium.

To say that the debates between the filmmakers are fascinating is a disservice to the incredible work Kenneally and Reeves have done with the documentary.  Reeves is obviously a good listener and keeps his cool with the questions but seems – and I could be wrong - to be on the side of film even if he did play a digital hero.  Kenneally is wise to include the forward 3D push from Cameron and Scorsese for the audience to consider even as its critics – included in this documentary – feel it more of a cash-grab from Hollywood.

Side by Side is interesting and exciting for any fan of the medium.  Unfortunately, as well executed as it is, the film’s content would have benefited more from a topical discussion of the current impact of digital technology on lower-budget filmmaking and on film restoration as its importance in preserving film is relying more on the digital medium these days than ever before and we all can agree that films like Wings and Casablanca should be preserved for all eternity.

The real question Kenneally and Reeves bring up is a resounding one indeed.  With film expenses climbing and digital ones dropping, do we even have a choice between the two formats anymore?

{2jtab: Film Details}

Side By Side - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: This title has not been rated by the MPAA.
99 mins.
: Christopher Kenneally
Writer: Christopher Kenneally
Danny Boyle; James Cameron; David Fincher; Greta gerwig
Genre: Documentary
A documentary about the science, art, and impact of digital cinema
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'm always looking for whatever is new, just to push the artform even further."
Tribeca Film
Official Site:
Release Date: No theatrical Release
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 5, 2013

Synopsis: The documentary investigates the history, process and workflow of both digital and photochemical film creation. We show what artists and filmmakers have been able to accomplish with both film and digital and how their needs and innovations have helped push filmmaking in new directions. Interviews with directors, cinematographers, colorists, scientists, engineers and artists reveal their experiences and feelings about working with film and digital--where we are now, how we got here and what the future may bring.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Side By Side - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 Stars

Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 5, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Interestingly enough, Kennelly chose to shoot his film on the Canon 5D Mark II, a digital camera that gets mentioned in the documentary. Side by Side's AVC encoded 1080i transfer in 1.78:1 is every bit as shiny as HD can be.  It’s without texture but manages a crisp image for the interview subjects.  Details range from wrinkles to fabrics and are presented with a nice balance in the color levels.  Blacks are strong without much depth and shadows – not many – retain their shape.  The archival footage used in the movie is uneven and depends on the original source but nothing that detracts from the experience of the documentary.  The sound is presented in a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix that livens up the documentary when it switches from archival footage and back to interviews.



  • None.  Such a shame.

Special Features:

There really aren’t a lot of supplemental material.  The bonus material includes an extended interview with Robert Rodriguez as he discusses shooting Planet Terror with a digital camera and other interviewees.  Nothing really too terribly important about any of the extra interviews.

  • Deleted Scenes (3 min)
  • Additional Interviews with Filmmakers (14 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}