SCIENCE ON SCREEN: Computer Chess (sneak preview!)

Science on Screen at The Cinefamily is made possible through a grant from the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Computer Chess opens Friday, August 2nd at Landmark’s NuArt.

“About as perfect a rendering of the era as you could ask for — the acting is uniformly superb: every twitch, every stumble, every stutter is deployed with absolutely plausibility. As an act of cultural archeology I can think of few better.” — Andrew Pulver, The Guardian

Wrapped up in a dense ball of whimsy, vintage tech gear, off-the-cuff surrealism and an Altman-like diagonal wanderlust, Computer Chess marks a breathtaking new direction for indie stalwart Andrew Bujalski, here departing from the mumblecore naturalism of Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation to present a left-field melding of the fantastical and the mundane. Setting the action at a nondescript hotel in 1980, and capturing his images using the unique B&W look of Portapak cameras (the pioneering Seventies portable video format), Bujalski brings together a panoply of old-school computer programmer types ostensibly for a chess tournament pitting circuit board against circuit board. What emerges from this breezy, vignette-laden masterpiece of spirit and comedic tone are quietly brilliant meditations on the nature of A.I., Carter-era optimism and the lingua franca of nerd-dom. No film released in 2013 comes even close to Computer Chess’s wholly unique balance between playful emotional resonance and keen aesthetics — and no other indie film in recent memory evokes the warm feelings of a bygone era with such empathetic zeal. After the screening, stick around for a Q&A with media theorist/chess obsessive Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics) and computer programmer Maciej Ceglowski (Pinboard, Bedbug Registry)!
Dir. Andrew Bujalski, 2013, digital presentation, 92 min.

Watch the trailer for “Computer Chess”!
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