It’s fascinating to watch the original mumblecore gang graduating one-by-one into the wider filmmaking community: some (Greta Gerwig, the Duplass Brothers) have headed to Hollywood, others (Joe Swanberg) to the indie-genre-flick ghetto. Only Andrew Bujalski (‘Funny Ha Ha’), the director of ‘Computer Chess’, is still keeping it hyper-real, and even his recent films have wandered pretty far from the original naked-hipsters-in-a-warehouse template.
‘Computer Chess’ might be the single best film any of this envelope-pushing bunch has been involved in. At first it’s a mock doc, shot on grainy early ’80s video cameras and following events at a very specific kind of tech convention, as nerds from across America test their self-designed chess programmes against one another.
But then the film opens out, and by the end it’s near impossible to say exactly what it’s trying to be: a comic riff on obsession? A critique of our gadget-obsessed society? A romance? A sports drama? A science-fiction movie? A modern tragedy? How about all of the above, and more? Low key and occasionally frustrating it may be, but ‘Computer Chess’ is a supremely intelligent, beautifully constructed film, interweaving comedy and character, satire and subtext, and loaded with more ideas than some filmmakers manage in a lifetime.
Cast and crew