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Computer Chess

Indie auteur Andrew Bujalski is in his element with this inventive comedy set at a 1980s computer conference, back when ‘geek’ was still a dirty word.

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  • Director-Screenwriter Andrew Bujalski
  • Producers Huston King, Alex Lipschultz
  • With Patrick Riester, Wiley Wiggins, Myles Paige, Robin Schwartz
  • USA 2013
  • 92 mins
  • UK distribution Eureka Entertainment

Computer Chess marks something of a departure for Andrew Bujalski, though it has plenty of the wit and warmth of his previous features (Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation and Beeswax). It’s the early 1980s and a chess conference is being held in a cheap hotel, the delegates attempting to discover whether it’s possible to design a computer program that can beat a real person at the game. There are conflicts and rivalries within this group of geeks; things start to get increasingly tense and strange, particularly as a self-discovery class have been booked into the same hotel. Shot on black-and-white video, apparently on a camera from the era in which the film is set, this is a period piece played out in a time before smart phones or the Nintendo Wii. The film is endearingly fetishistic about analogue technology, has a smart and funny script, and there are committed performances from the ensemble cast. There’s ample evidence here to show what an inventive, daring and individual filmmaker Bujalski has become.

Michael Hayden

Director biography

Andrew Bujalski has written and directed the films Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation and Beeswax, all of which have appeared on the New York Times critics’ ‘Top 10 of the Year’ lists. Funny Ha Ha was also identified by AO Scott as one of the ‘10 Most Influential Films of the ’00s.’ Between duties on his own projects, Andrew has also worked as a screenwriter-for-hire and a teacher of film production at Boston University and the University of Texas. The Boston Globe describes him as ‘unerringly polite and somewhat dishevelled’.

Read the Time Out review.

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