By admin | January 21, 2013

This review was originally published on January 21, 2013…

You know when you stumble into a party by accident, and too embarrassed to get up and leave, you instead end up listening to people you don’t know talk about s**t you don’t care about? Yeah, Computer Chess is a lot like that.

The premise is kind of cool: it’s a faux documentary in which computer science engineers battle at chess in order to see who developed the best gaming software. That’s where the cool factor ends. Shot to replicate the quality of a 1980’s film, the black and white visual looks cheap and the sound buzzes like a florescent light. The trade off for aesthetic effect is an interminably grating experience.

The story begins with the opening ceremonies of the chess competition, which takes place in a hotel conference room. The droning introduction by the host is supposed to amuse by its prolonged tedium—it’s not funny. The meandering action takes us into several hotel rooms where various individuals wax philosophic—they’re not profound. There are some general threads of story: a young kid (Riester) tries to fix a malfunctioning computer with the help of his renowned professor (Kindlmann); a couple’s therapy group conducts their hedonistic exercises in the shared hotel space; a displaced competitor (Paige) roams the halls, looking for a room to crash in.

Characters crop up, but with no real purpose, no depth, and no appeal, they fail to do anything of interest. Even when writer and director Andrew Bujalski pitches in some outlandish plot twists at the end, I swear it’s just to test if the audience is sleeping…

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