Computer Chess


91 minutes

Wikipedia says people call director Andrew Bujalski the "Godfather of Mumblecore." While that’s a godawful nickname that no human being should ever utter, if you’ve ever seen Bujalski’s other films—Funny Ha-Ha, Beeswax, some contributions to Hannah Takes the Stairs—you could see how it kind of fits. Computer Chess, then, is a hell of a change of pace for him—a drama set during a computer chess tournament in the 1980s, shot mostly in black-and-white on what press materials call “vintage video equipment.” Despite some amateurish acting, Computer Chess proves to be a compelling story about the nerds (and one lonely nerd-woman) who were smart—or foolish—enough to see the future in those stubborn, boxy computers that could barely do anything at all. (PAUL CONSTANT) According to the Boston Globe, Computer Chess—set in the mid-'80s and concerning a small society of geeks at a computer chess tournament—was shot with “a consumer-grade video camera from 1969.” As a consequence, the film looks like the '60s, the wardrobe and art direction look like the '80s, and the actors act like the geeks of today, the apps age. (I could be wrong about this, and maybe it’s just that, unlike video cameras or clothes, the geek mode is eternal, does not evolve, exists outside of history.) All in all, mumblecore master Andrew Bujalski’s fourth feature film is an excellent comedy that never goes dull or tired, contains lots of little and delightful bits of cultural history, and has no mumbling. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

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Film Credits
Andrew Bujalski
SIFF 2013