Monday, August 5, 2013

Computer Chess (2013)

WHO: Andrew Bujalski wrote and directed this.

WHAT: One of the most unusual and pleasurable new movies I've seen in 2013, a puzzling film (if not a "puzzle film") shot with an analog video camera and set at a 8-bit-era chess tournament pitting rudimentary predecessors to Deep Blue against each other in awkward death matches. I love Amy Taubin's take on the film after seeing its premiere at Sundance this past January. An excerpt:
With nods to Stanley Kubrick and George Landow, Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess is bracingly idiosyncratic—and close to perfect. Set in 1980 in a nowheresville hotel hosting an annual artificial-intelligence chess competition (software programs operated by computer nerds compete at chess) the movie is part faux documentary and part hallucinatory coming-of age sexual fantasy.
WHERE/WHEN: Runs at least through Thursday at the Opera Plaza with showtimes at 2:20 and 7:00.

WHY: The Opera Plaza has been Landmark's default house for the most offbeat edge of the chain's programming, since the closure of the Lumiere last fall, and I'm glad that even with the temporary closure of the Embarcadero and its five screens until sometime this Autumn, the venue is keeping a screen dedicated to movies without famous celebrities in them. This week is likely the last for Computer Chess as another highly-anticipated title The Act of Killing is set to open Friday.

Unfortunately, although the Opera Plaza still has the capability to run 35mm prints, most of what they play there is shown on older-model digital projectors. One exception right now is Before Midnight, which despite having been shot on video, is available to screen in 35mm and is currently running that way at the Van Ness venue.

HOW: Digital video screening of an analog-video-shot title.

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