For Reel

Computer Chess (2013)
November 17, 2013, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Andrew Bujalski
5 Stars
Computer ChessDeceptively simple, director Andrew Bujalski’s latest comedy is among the most philosophically dense and aesthetically inventive American indies in recent years. The film is set in a motel in the early 1980s where a number of computer programmers are staging a tournament to find the most effective chess-playing software. Furthering the period detail beyond the retro computers, embarrassing haircuts, and Coke-bottle glasses, Bujalski shot the film almost exclusively on retro video cameras that render the events in blurry, washed-out grays. What initially seems like a Christopher Guest inspired comedy eventually becomes something more complex, not so much about artificial intelligence but about thinking and existing itself. The beauty of the film, however, is that Bujalski is never bogged down with his heady existentialist themes–this is not a film with a thesis with a capital T. Instead, it’s a film of both wry and mystifying observations, one that playfully unravels and gradually seems to gain its own sense of consciousness and logic as it progresses. Famed film critic Gerry Peary has a supporting role that generates the biggest laughs.

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