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Tyler

Computer Chess

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Links to Bujalski's Beeswax and Funny Ha Ha. He's also come up in the Mumblecore thread.

Scott Tobias reviewed Computer Chess for The Dissolve.

But the film is also a great, thrilling leap into new and wholly original territory for Bujalski, a deeply strange, deeply funny comedy about analog techies in the mid-1980s that detours into hard science fiction, surrealism, and middle-aged hippie-cult sensualists. Shot on a Sony AVC-3260 camera—a black-and-white vidicon tube camera that significantly predates the period—Computer Chess functions both as an uncanny facsimile of found home-video footage and a cheeky rebuke to the current wave of slick digital options for indie filmmakers. If Bujalski must shoot on video, the film implies, it’s damn well going to look like video.

Edited by Tyler

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This is one I've been keeping an eye on. Doubt it will play near me, but I'll check it out when it comes to home video.

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This is an incredibly charming piece of work. I was really worried its conceit would wear out after 10 minutes, but Bujalski never lets it get too cute or tedious.

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Now streaming on Netflix Instant in the U.S.

Fantastic. It was next on my list of must-see movies for this year, and now I can watch it at home without paying extra.

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In his review, Aaron Hills writes that "This is a very odd, weird, strange, idiosyncratic film. I don't know how many ways I can say it."

I'm not sure COMPUTER CHESS completely works--for me, some of its surrealist flourishes strike me as forced--but it's still so undeniably original, and successful enough, that I can't help but admire it.

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I suspect that this will be for most viewers as it was for me — a very difficult film to sit through the first time.

 

But in the last 20 minutes, I finally began to get a sense of what the film was really about. Strangely enough, it was a strong and I'm tempted to say deliberate connection to Kieslowski ("Decalogue 1") that gave me my first taste of what the film was really up to. From that point on, my attention to everything intensified. About 10 minutes before it was over, I was making connections with films by Lynch (Eraserhead, especially) and Kubrick (both Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey). 

 

The final moment before the credits roll won me over completely. It's the kind of conclusion I love best... the one the makes me want to start watching the movie again immediately.

 

Alas, I'm very sick with a cold tonight, and it's time to surrender and sleep. But I'm going to revisit this... soon, I hope. I'll need to be up for the challenge, as there are a lot of things in the film that I'm certain are flying high over my head.

 

I may not have enjoyed it as much as Upstream Color, but it is every bit as challenging and formally ambitious as that film. Since it's a rare thing in any year to see a truly groundbreaking science fiction movie, hooray for 2013, which now has two.

Edited by Overstreet

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I watched the first half hour or so a few weeks ago and didn't feel a great need to see the rest. It felt like I knew what was coming, but maybe there's more to it than I thought.

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I watched the first half hour or so a few weeks ago and didn't feel a great need to see the rest. It felt like I knew what was coming, but maybe there's more to it than I thought.

 

If it turns out that you did know what was coming, I will be very impressed.

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I watched the first half hour or so a few weeks ago and didn't feel a great need to see the rest. It felt like I knew what was coming, but maybe there's more to it than I thought.

 

After not quite a half hour, I had the exact. same. reaction. 

 

However, this thread, and the fact that a certain someone has listed this as his #1 film of 2013, definitely have me intrigued.

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Yeah, I did watch the rest a few days ago, and I didn't see that coming. I'm still not sure what "it" was, but it's not what I was expecting.

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So, I've seen it.  Not really sure what to think, other than it is incredibly bizarre and fascinating.  I didn't find it that hard to sit through. (It has a couple tough stretches, but I've found other films far more challenging) That could be because I enjoy chess a lot, so I found the man versus machine theme while using chess as a backdrop fairly interesting.  This dialogue within the first two minutes also completely hooked me:
 

"Do you think a human being will ever beat a person at chess?"
 
"Oh, between a human being and a person, my money's on the computer."


And did the penultimate scene of the computers speaking to one another remind anyone else of the final scene in Holy Motors with the automobiles?

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Saw this last night.  Made for an interesting double feature with Her which we saw earlier in the day.

 

Film it reminded me most of was Escape from the Future.  Both take some getting used to, and then thinking back to determine if you like it or not.

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Film it reminded me most of was Escape from the Future.

You mean Escape from Tomorrow?

Edited by Rushmore

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Film it reminded me most of was Escape from the Future.

You mean Escape from Tomorrow?

 

exactly

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Interestingly enough, I saw this first start to get some acclaim in my tech circles for how accurately it captures so many tech details and geek social tendencies. Here's the Pando Daily review that caught my eye – http://pando.com/2013/12/26/computer-chess-is-the-years-best-movie-about-technology/

 

After seeing it also end up on Jeffrey's year end list, Jen and I sat down to watch it this AM. 

 

Holy cow. Blown away. 

 

It's probably my tech background, but this has easily shot into my top films of all time.

 

And for those unfamiliar with it, here's a link to the wikipedia background on Schrödinger's cat – http://lks.gd/chesscat – which I think draws the nature of the film together perfectly.

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I'm thrilled that you got so much out of this. I should have you talk with me about it sometime. It's one of those movies were I know I'm only catching traces of what it's really all about. I think you're more like the film's ideal audience. You could probably translate it for me.

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Very much a niche film - as I watched it, different people kept coming to mind, "ah hah, I think I know someone who would really enjoy this," but nothing especially exciting happened for me, personally. It held my attention, but as a weird sort of distant fascination. It kept reminding me of Aronofsky's Pi, but where Pi got right inside the philosophical implications of obsession and numbers, Computer Chess made me wonder if human rational was even human at all. It becomes uncomfortably bleak, very quickly. But like I said, it's too niche for me to even get a handle on it. I'm not smart enough for it.

Edited by Jeremy Ratzlaff

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Now streaming on Amazon Prime in the U.S. 

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