To film, or not to film? That is Keanu’s ques­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Ran­dall King

I’VE seen Keanu Reeves play Ham­let on the stage of the Royal Man­i­toba The­atre Cen­tre, so you would think the guy couldn’t sur­prise me any­more.

But Reeves does just that, es­sen­tially play­ing the role of in­ter­viewer in this film geek doc ex­am­in­ing the ques­tion of film vs. dig­i­tal.

I’ve watched Reeves field a lot of bone-headed ques­tions from re­porters in my time at film fes­ti­vals and film jun­kets, but the 48-year-old ac­tor makes a de­cent re­porter him­self as he talks to some leg­endary direc­tors, bril­liant cin­e­matog­ra­phers and sea­soned edi­tors.

As it hap­pens, Reeves has re­la­tion­ships with many of th­ese peo­ple, such as Lana and Andy Wa­chowski, who di­rected him in the Ma­trix tril­ogy. A com­fort­able rap­port makes for a re­ward­ing in­quiry into the cur­rent sta­tus of the film-vs.dig­i­tal video de­bate, which still rages though, tech­ni­cally, dig­i­tal me­dia is clearly coming out ahead.

Di­rec­tor Chris Kenneally lays out the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two for­mats in clear and con­cise fash­ion, and brings forth a se­ries of ex­pert wit­nesses to de­bate the mer­its of ei­ther for­mat.

In terms of big guns, Ge­orge Lu­cas and James Cameron take the side of the dig­i­tal form, as it is more amenable to the abun­dance of vis­ual ef­fects lay­ered into Star Wars I-III and Avatar. But it is di­rec­tor Danny Boyle who emerges as the most con­vinc­ing from the dig­i­tal camp, dis­cussing how the light­weight porta­bil­ity of dig­i­tal al­lowed him to catch those stun­ning Omega Man- like shots of Cil­lian Murphy wan­der­ing through a de­serted Lon­don in 28 Days Later. In 2008, 28 Days cin­e­matog­ra­pher An­thony Dod Man­tle le­git­imized the use of dig­i­tal cam­eras in land­mark fash­ion by win­ning the Os­car for his deft work on Boyle’s Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire.

Tak­ing the side of film, direc­tors Chris Nolan and David Fincher of­fer con­vinc­ing de­fences of the film medium, de­spite the fact that film tech­nol­ogy has es­sen­tially peaked (no new film cam­eras are cur­rently be­ing made). It still looks bet­ter than cur­rent ul­tra-high def­i­ni­tion video, and a look at film-shot works such as Dark Knight Ris­ing and Fincher’s re­make of The Girl with the Dragon Tat­too make a com­pelling case.

But the last word must go to Robert Rodriguez who says that if dig­i­tal has not yet reached the qual­ity of film, it’s only a mat­ter of time.

As for this doc­u­men­tary? It was shot dig­i­tally. It might not have been pos­si­ble if shot on film, which may be the most com­pelling, al­beit un­spo­ken ar­gu­ment of all.

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