Keanu Reeves Talks To Today’s Top Filmmakers In SIDE BY SIDEAugust 22, 2012

Keanu Reeves Talks To Today’s Top Filmmakers In SIDE BY SIDE

Tribeca Film

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: SIDE BY SIDE (Tribeca Film).


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By Chris Claro


If you were a producer looking for a star to headline a documentary about the progression of film production from celluloid to digital, whom might you cast? Maybe Ben Affleck, who has proved his filmmaker bona fides with GONE BABY, GONE and THE TOWN – and whose ARGO looks extremely promising? Or Ben Stiller, who was praised for his work behind the camera on TROPIC THUNDER and is currently directing and starring in the remake of THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY? But Keanu Reeves? He of the stoner stare and vacant cadence? Would he be your guy?
SIDE BY SIDE (Tribeca Film)

Well, he might not be, but Reeves was the choice of filmmaker Christopher Kenneally, whose resume is heavy with work as a production manager on numerous films, including Reeves’s little-seen HENRY’S CRIME. And Reeves handles his work as interviewer and narrator of Kenneally’s SIDE BY SIDE, with aplomb, grilling some of the most dynamic filmmakers in the industry about the pros and cons of the use of digital technology in their work.
Divided into sections that include shooting, visual effects, and exhibition, SIDE BY SIDE is a comprehensive film that appeals to both experienced students of film and people who just enjoy movies. Each portion of the film begins with an easy-to-grasp description of the techniques and procedures that were used for the first hundred years of filmmaking – celluloid, silver nitrate, etc. – and those that are currently overtaking the industry. And though both Kenneally and his subjects acknowledge that digital technology is the future of filmmaking, a number of the interviewees speak wistfully about the happy accidents that no longer occur due to the sleek, somewhat sterile electronica that permeates the industry; watching the faraway look in the eyes of Anne V. Coates, a grande dame of film editing who describes one such serendipitous moment in the cutting of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, is as priceless a moment as any in that classic.
James Cameron / SIDE BY SIDE (Tribeca Film)


In addition to Coates, Kenneally wrings valuable insight from filmmakers as diverse as David Fincher, James Cameron, and Richard Linklater. And no doc about this subject would be complete without a contribution from the man who essentially invented the non-linear digital editing system, George Lucas, who comes across as less stodgy and self-serious than he usually is, delighting in the tools he now has at his disposal. Though not everyone agrees with Lucas that cutting film entirely out of the workflow is necessarily a good thing, no one denies that current state of the industry is one that allows risks and experiments that only ten years ago would have been impossible.


Lena Dunham / SIDE BY SIDE (Tribeca Film)

Though some of Kenneally’s choices are iffy – was Lena Dunham the best representative of today’s digital filmmaking community? – his passion for and expertise on the subject are unquestionable. Crammed with indelible images from a century’s worth of film, astutely edited and nimbly scored, SIDE BY SIDE is the near-perfect documentary, illuminating as it entertains.


Fleet and instructive, with a solid contribution from an engaged and respectful Keanu Reeves, it’s a can’t-miss film for anyone who’s ever said “let’s watch a movie.” A celebration of film’s past and anticipation of its future, SIDE BY SIDE is one of the finest movies of the year.





- Chris Claro


Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of He blogs at Follow Chris on twitter @cgclaro.

SIDE BY SIDE (Tribeca Film) can be found on demand.


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