Side by Side: documentary explaining the different ways in which digital and film reel images make their way from the director’s lens and on to cinema screens. It’s a film made specifically for film nerds, about the technical aspects of the end-to-end process of film-making – yet it’s all very high-level, with simplistic explanations that only really cover the basics – parts remind you of school educational videos. Still, it’s a great excuse to sit down with the cream of Hollywood directors, editors, DPs & various industry names, and hear their professional opinions on it: cast list below. It’s also packed with some of the greatest shots from over 100 years of Cinema – starting with ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ through to Avatar. As an interviewer, Keanu is quite good (although we only ever see short sections) but he gets surprisingly blunt and animated with big Hollywood figures: he also pulls off every look imaginable from genuine tramp, through to rockstar and everything in between. The most interesting part was seeing how the digital switch moves the emphasis away from the DP (director of photography) and towards editors and colour timers. Side by Side is a good look at the Analogue Vs Digital debate; however, it’s a fight that’s been raging on for well over 15 years now, and one that digital has all but won – as the new shooting and projecting standards. Because of this, it doesn’t really shed much more light on the subject. Lucas and Cameron championing digital Vs Nolan and Pfister who are unsympathetically anti-digital – anyone interested in cinema will already know this. Still, it’s worth watching, if only to see your favourite directors with the gloves off, hammering into the format they don’t like.
Interviews include: Keanu Reeves, George Lucas, Steven Soderbergh, James Cameron, David Lynch, Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Martin Scorsese, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Christopher Nolan, Walter Pfister, David Fincher, Lars von Trier, John Malkovich, Danny Boyle, Joel Schumacher, FULL CAST HERE
Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel. What do Francis Ford Coppola, Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Dennis Hopper, Joe Dante, Robert De Niro, David Carradine, Pam Grier, and Ron Howard (to name but a few) all have in common? …give up? They all got their first break from one man; Roger Corman. Much like the majority of his movies, Corman’s career feels like fiction; as a story reader at 20th Century Fox he singled out the script for The Gunfighter, added some suggestions and got no credit for the film’s success, so he left the company in 1955 and self-funded his first movie – he hasn’t stopped working on films ever since. The biggest weapon in this film’s arsenal is Corman himself; he’s fascinating and a very watchable presence – intelligent, unassuming, genuine, happy, modest, energetic, amiable… to be honest, I’d have been happy with a more in-depth 90 minute conversation. His relevance and importance through the decades is truly eye-opening, which is nicely contrasted with Corman’s penny-pinching / budget maximisation methods that have seen him direct and/or produce well over 300 movies and almost never make a loss. The doc does lose some steam and focus around the hour mark, and in patches it feels like a sugar-coated, rose-tinted fanboy piece, but they’re minor complaints. Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel does a decent job of covering the highlights of an amazing +50 year career in 90 minutes, letting the audience know how his surname embodies an entire genre. Most importantly, I sat with a smile on my face for most of the runtime
Titanic: What can you say about this that hasn’t already been said? The continual use of establishing shots and long swoops over the ship confirm that James Cameron was all about the spectacle, size, scale and cutting-edge GCI at the time (sounds familiar…) Although nobody’s looking at her face for the last half hour Winslett’s acting is sketchy at best, DiCaprio out-classes her like you wouldn’t believe but looks sooooo young. It all gets a bit too epic and stupid near the end: gun-fight, child rescue and too many scenes of real-time sinking and survival – although the limp bodies smashing off the railings / propellers are pretty cool! For me, the musician’s sacrifice is the saddest part of the film by a long shot. Overall Titanic is too long, and the present day story’s adds nothing, just serves to deliver some corny / cheesy comedy. Some retrospective tongue-in-cheek comments about Picasso and Freud were a neat touch. It’s a decent story, big spectacle but just too over the top.
Avatar 3D: marketed as the biggest and best sci-fi adventure of all time – bold claim. From the start it’s totally otherworldly; with the characters, animals, landscapes, textures and backgrounds all meticulously designed. For some reason the planet reminded me of Finding Nemo! The 3D wasn’t flawless as only one object in a frame would show real depth and the rest of the scene appeared out of focus or flat – it’s quite an exercise for the eyes. The sound was uncomfortably loud in parts too, so not an easy film for the senses!! Story-wise it wasn’t the best, or most original, and it took some super-ridiculous & corny twists. The characters are all “stock” clearly falling into the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ camps, and dialogue / acting is generally flat. Cameron’s tried to make it quite humane with the ‘aliens’ clearly echoing our 3rd world; while ‘undertones’ push simple arguments against war on terror and eco-issues. Beyond the impressive looks and epic action scenes all other elements of the film are distinctly average. It’s a great experience, but a victim of its own hype. Don’t expect perfection.