Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.
It’s been awhile since we did a newer release on Two Cents, and Side By Side just felt like the right film at the right time. We can’t think of a more relevant film to discuss right now than Keanu Reeves’ documentary, which explores the debate of film vs digital. Keanu is currently shooting faces off in our new hotness that is John Wick. Christopher Nolan is pushing Interstellar, now opening, in 70mm and 35mm formats. Quentin Tarantino recently shocked the LA film community with his takeover of the New Bev, making it a film-only venue, and Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play In Hell, a maniacal love letter to celluloid, is making its way to theaters after a highly successful festival run. Side By Side has never been more essential for the discerning cinephile.
Did you get a chance to watch along with us this week? Want to recommend a great (or not so great) film for the whole gang to cover? Comment below or post on our Facebook or hit us up on Twitter!
Next Week’s Pick:
Next week’s pick is the 1933 Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup, considered by many to be their best film, and one of the funniest movies of all time. Does this old chestnut still hold up more than 80 years later? Are puns the highest form of comedy? Just what the hell is the deal with Groucho Marx’s moustache? The answers to all these questions and more, next week. Why not watch it with us and submit your review? It’s streaming on Netflix!
Would you like to be a guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your short review (keep it under 200 words) to twocents(at)cinapse.co!
James:Anyone with the slightest interest in the history of cinema, its evolution, and how movies manage to lug their way from initial idea to silver screen should check out Christopher Kenneally’s fascinating documentary Side By Side, which successfully ruminates on the cultural, artistic and socio-economic implications inherent in the seemingly inevitable cinematic (r)evolution from celluloid to digital.
The One Ted Theodore Logan proves an erudite and insightful interviewer, managing to extract cogent, level-headed arguments on the pros and cons of both formats from a veritable who’s-who of cinematic legends. Sitting back with amused detachment, seeing both sides of the argument, is the almost Yoda-like presence of Martin Scorsese, whilst Steven Spielberg is conspicuous by his absence.
But what comes across most is that, regardless of the technology used, the key to film’s continuing development is the sheer dedication, passion and enthusiasm of the human element that goes into the art of movie-making. Side By Side is as much a celebration of cinema as it is an education. An accessible, sober and non-judgmental attempt to tackle one of the most prescient debates currently preoccupying our beloved medium, frequently prodding its finger at you with an encouraging, “So, what do you think?” (@jconthagrid)
Liam:I think Side by Side largely works as a documentary because of the broad variety of input, and because of its unwillingness to settle its central issue. It does a pretty good job of presenting all the various issues save one, and that is the archival issue. They touch on it toward the end, but I think it is an important one. Look, when I first thought about this thing way back when the Stars Wars prequels came out I thought “ who is going to convert all those old celluloid movie to digital?” Now it is clear, they have not figured out a good way to store digital media! As it stands, all those old but well preserved film prints have a longer shelf life than your computerized nightmare. That is the thing to me. My preferred medium may be dead, and perhaps I can accept that and mourn. If we lose it all though, that would be a tragedy. For now, I am listening to records and reading old musty books, so I am OK with the outdated film. (@liamrulz)
Brendan:Before getting into the question of film versus digital, let’s talk about Side By Side as a film. As great as it is to see all these great filmmakers (especially the tech people who would never have been given such a showcase and appreciation anywhere else) in one place, I don’t think Side By Side ultimately has enough material to fill out its running time. The directors never seem to crack how to create any kind of story out of the debate between film and digital, and so after a half hour it feels like everything that needs to be said has.
As for the debate at the heart of the movie, I tend towards film over digital for the simple reason that movies shot on film look better than movies shot on digital. Even the much lauded Collateral, with its eye-popping urban vistas, becomes a blurry, pixelated mess anytime it cuts to an image with a human being moving in it. And I hateHateHATE the rationale that filmmakers should sacrifice image quality because it is easier and faster to shoot digitally. Art is the result of human response to adversity, and when you remove that element? No thanks. (@TheTrueBrendanF)
Victor:Editorial Note: Victor wrote an article this week on the subject of “film vs digital” which includes thoughts on Side By Side and can be read here. He did, however, add this opinion:
Tom Rothman is the biggest douche in the known universe. (V.N. Pryor)
Austin:“Film versus digital” is such a bogus and sad concept and I hate to see two equally compelling yet very different formats in such an adversarial relationship. Moreover, it oversimplifies the multiple uses of these media, which include creation, editing, exhibition, and storage. Because of this, it’s really quite refreshing to see Side By Side discuss all this in such an open and centrally unbiased conversation with so many filmmakers with differing opinions. A couple come off as self-satisfied goons (George Lucas) but for the most part these directors, cinematographers, and editors just bring a lot of expertise and great thoughts to the table. A fascinating and important documentary that makes a perfect companion piece to another must-watch film documentary, These Amazing Shadows. (@VforVashaw)
Ed:What I thought was weird was when Keanu shot Martin Scorsese in the face and said “That rare 35mm print was a final gift from my dying wife”. But whatever. Regardless, I was riveted by Side By Side and felt the breadth of interviews, presentation of information concerning the birth of moving images, the projection and chemical processes of developing film, and the rise of digital images, was about as perfect as could be. I could write way more than 200 words on the “film vs digital” debate, but perhaps the best part about this film was its own refusal to take a clear side. Rather, it presented compelling arguments from some of the biggest names in the industry on both sides of the debate, from the pro-celluloid Christopher Nolan to the patently digital Steven Soderbergh, and everywhere in between. Keanu proved a wonderful moderator, asking great questions of the interviewees. I’ll leave you with recent words from Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League, whose proposal for the way forward in this debate jives perfectly with this film’s title. Perhaps the way forward lies in finding a way to utilize BOTH film and digital formats, side by side. (@Ed_Travis)
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