Taking place over the course of a weekend chess tournament some 30 years ago, Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess follows a group of software programmers who are deadset on creating a computer capable of beating expert human chess players. Computer Chess takes place in a world where the contest between technology and a human's creativity and free will was completely up for grabs. This is an incredibly odd, ensemble film that spends the time to get to know its characters, a host of eccentric geniuses obsessed with creating a computer that can defeat man. Computer Chess is a cerebral experience, interweaving satire and subtext in a way that is both whimsical and intellectual. Bujalski's shoots the film in a 4:3 aspect ratio on grainy white and black film stock that gives Computer Chess an aesthetic that feels immersive, giving the film a more documentary type feel. This ensemble doesn't have a true main protagonist but Peter Bishop, a younger computer programmer, comes closest. Peter was the character I found most interesting, a reserved, shy man who constantly feels uncomfortable in the world around him. Bujalski seems to suggest he has more in common with the machine he helps develop than human life, with Peter routinely suffering terribly when it comes to expressing his anxieties. For my money this is the most interesting aspect of the film, how these computer programmers have in fact more in common with the machines they create than the average human being. Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess is a strange yet fascinating film exploring man's relationship with machine, among other interesting endeavors.
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