Showing posts with label computer chess. Show all posts
Showing posts with label computer chess. Show all posts

15 January 2014

DVD Review - Computer Chess

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Genre:
Comedy, Independent
Rating:
15
Distributor:
Eureka! Entertainment
BD/DVD Release Date:
20th January 2014 (UK)
Director:
Andrew Bujalski
Cast:
Kriss Schludermann, Tom Fletcher, Wiley Wiggins,
Buy: Computer Chess (Masters of Cinema) (DVD & BLU-RAY DUAL FORMAT)

The year of 1984 proved a seminal time for computer nerds. With Orwell's ideas of the impending doom of the human race becoming more apparent, alongside the release of The Terminator and Revenge of the Nerds, it was certainly a time in history which still conjures nostalgia for those who stayed up into the small hours discussing the future of computer technology and their makers. For Andrew Bujalski's latest work, Computer Chess, revisiting such a time resurrects various hypothesises, pandering to them in a manner which reveals something much more sinister underneath.

Set in a nameless budget hotel over a weekend convention, the film presents a group of obsessive computer software programmers as they attempt to compete for a grand prize for the best computer chess programme. Amongst all the competitive bragging and pot induced ramblings on artificial intelligence, the film reveals a larger frame-work of the relationships and insecurities between its characters and their machines, presenting a surreal de-humanised look of a digital age which has only considered to have been lost as technology advanced over time.

A popular Sundance veteran, Bujalski has usually been seen as the master of the American Indie sub-genre Mumblecore. With film-festival hits such as Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation within his canon, he has a skilful eye in directing intricate character studies where droll, yet textured, dialogue and interactions from actors prevailed over the main story. Unsurprisingly, Bujalski's idiosyncratic style is regularly compared to that of Cassavetes or Rohmer. However, in a refreshing move, he has broadened his skills, presenting a film that is as nightmarishly unique as anything by David Cronenberg or as complex as Shane Carruth's Primer.

Although the neurotic outsider characters which made Bujalski a significant indie director still prevail, exchanges in dialogue soon create a noticeably more ominous atmosphere once the humorous tone shifts into sci-fi surrealism. Starting off like a mockumentary, the cringe inducing obsessiveness of these characters slowly uncovers a few unsettling ideas once they themselves begin to question the power these machines actually have over them. Having one particular system refusing to operate until its chess skills are actually put towards another human soul, an uncomfortable paranoia lingers over the film. Despite these characters speaking at length about the expansiveness of the circuitry within their computers, their difficulty in emotionally connecting with anybody else - or even understanding what their machines are doing – makes one wonder that while the evolution in artificial intelligence still seems infinite, has the development and intelligence of the human race become more rooted sooner than one would think?

Yet, what turns transforms seemingly standard idea for a character driven piece into a compelling puzzle is in the actual look of the film. Entirely shot on an ancient and cumbersome Sony videocamera (the AVC-3260, incase you were wondering), the fuzzy, black and white footage gives a sense that the film was unearthed from the depths of an old government filing cabinet, deemed completely classified. Amplifying the uneasy atmosphere, the simplicity of the camera movements within the competition, combined with a discreet intrusiveness outside it, works well in creating a secretive knowingness from the man in control behind it. In all its retro simplicity, there is a warped satisfaction in being in on the act. Alongside a 4:3 aspect ratio and an unstable picture quality, it boxes these characters within the claustrophobic labyrinth of the hotel.With no sense of escape from these walls or their (now) imperfect mentality, Bujalski reveals an alternative point of view on the origins and mindset of the 'wired' generation that could still arguably be resonant today. Encouraging the viewer to philosophise over its development and origins from all possible angles, the unsettling conclusion concocts an uncertainty towards the future of these characters. It is not so much that the computer nerds came and conquered, it is just that they unconsciously laid the foundations for a future that is today.

★★★★

David Darley

2 December 2013

Checkmate, Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess To Get Its Masters Of Cinema Home Release January

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Genre:
Comedy
Distributor:
Eureka! Entertainment
DVD Release Date:
20th January 2014 (UK)
Director:
Andrew Bujalski
Cast:
Kriss Schludermann, Tom Fletcher, Wiley Wiggins
Pre-Order/Buy [Amazon]:
Computer Chess (Masters of Cinema) (DVD & BLU-RAY DUAL FORMAT)

Eureka! Entertainment have announced the home video release of Computer Chess, the smash indie-hit selected by the 2013 London Film Festival, 2013 Sundance Festival, 2013 South by Southwest, and 2013 Berlin Film Festival. Directed by the "godfather" of the American "mumblecore" movement, Andrew Bujalski, director of Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation, and Beeswax – and selected by The New York Times this summer as one of 20 Directors to Watch, Computer Chess is poignant, absurd and downright hilarious. Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess follows the trials and tribulations of a group of oddball geniuses over the weekend of a computer chess tournament circa 1980. As they pit their chess programmes against each other’s they're met with right-on new-agers, voracious swingers and a computer that appears to be self aware...

Computer Chess transports viewers to that fleeting moment when the contest between man and machine seemed a little more up for grabs. We get to know the eccentric geniuses possessed of the vision to teach a metal box to defeat man, literally, at his own game, laying the groundwork for artificial intelligence as we know it.

Computer Chess received its UK premiere at the LONDON FILM FESTIVAL, before wowing audiences at the CORK FILM FESTIVAL, CINE-CITY (Brighton Film Festival) & LEEDS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ahead of its UK VOD and theatrical release on 22 November 2013 where it is currently playing selected cinemas nationwide across the UK in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Nottingham, Sheffield, Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh, Southampton, Dublin & Cork and more.


Released as a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition as part of Eureka! Entertainment's award-winning The Masters of Cinema Series, Computer Chess will be available on home video from 20 January 2014.



The fourth feature film from the brilliant and maverick American filmmaker Andrew Bujalski, whose previous works include Funny Ha Ha (the early ‘00s film that arguably kicked-off the so-called “mumblecore” movement of American independent cinema), Mutual Appreciation (an acclaimed comic portrait of love and longing in the Brooklyn indie music scene), and Beeswax (which among its principals starred Alex Karpovsky, the filmmaker and actor who has gone on to renown for his own comedy features and his role in Lena Dunham’s Girls).
A boldly intelligent ensemble comedy with a feel and atmosphere that surpass easy comparison, Computer Chess takes place in the early-1980s over the course of a weekend conference where a group of obsessive software programmers have convened to pit their latest refinements in machine-chess and the still-developing field of artificial intelligence (AI) against an assembly of human chess masters. Computer Chess is a portrait not only of the crazy and surreal relationships that come to pass between the abundance of characters who participate in the weekend event (and among whose ranks include Wiley Wiggins, the revered indie-game developer and star of Richard Linklater’s classic Dazed and Confused), but of the very era of early computing itself – and of the first, rudimentary video games – and (if that weren’t enough) of the hopes and insecurities that persisted through the film’s “retro” digital age into the present-day — that semi-virtual, hyper-social, maybe-kind-of-dehumanised landscape that, let’s face it, is our very own era. If that still weren’t enough: it’s also one of the wittiest, most shift-and-cringe-in-your-seat, and entirely LOL-hilarious movies of recent times.
With its radical retro video aesthetic and wry rumination on digitality and where-we-are-today, Computer Chess is a far-reaching and ambitious benchmark for the modern American cinema. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess in its UK home-viewing debut in a Dual Format (Blu-ray + DVD) release.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• 1080p presentation of the feature film on the Blu-ray
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Two trailers for the film
• Andrew Bujalski's short 2013 film Analog Goose
• New and exclusive video interviews with Bujalski, actor Wiley Wiggins, and producer Alex Lipschultz
• 56-PAGE FULL-COLOUR BOOKLET featuring a new essay by Craig Keller; a discussion on retro gaming with Wiley Wiggins; a profile on cover artist (and original Atari 2600 packaging artist) Cliff Spohn; a plethora of full-colour photography from the set; and more!
• Additional extras to be announced closer to release

We recently reviewed Computer Chess you can re-read the review by Pierre Badiola here and Computer Chess will be released by Eureka! Entertainment via The Masters Of Cinema on a Dual Format release (Blu-Ray & DVD) on 20th January 2014 , Pre-order/Buy Computer Chess (Masters of Cinema) (DVD & BLU-RAY DUAL FORMAT)

25 November 2013

Eureka Video Announce Their Masters Of Cinema 2014 Early Releases

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Eureka Entertainment have announced via their twitter feeds (@eurekavideo and @mastersofcinema) their forthcoming releases in The Masters of Cinema series for the months of January, February and March 2014.

With a slate of titles that ranges from the most recent and 1980s American cinema (and, separately, the emergent Australian independent cinema), through to masterworks of the Italian cinema, and on to silent, and 1970s Hollywood, The Masters of Cinema Series runs the cinephile gamut once again with a seven-film January-March line-up that includes works by Federico Fellini, Samuel Fuller, Sidney Lumet, Francesco Rosi, William A. Wellman, Ted Kotcheff, and Andrew Bujalski. As if that weren't enough, Eureka Entertainment are also proud to announce an early summer release for one of Robert Altman's most revered films.

Producer of the Masters of Cinema Series, Craig Keller stated “In January, we welcome Andrew Bujalski into the Series for the first time with his smash indie-success Computer Chess (read review) that is currently enjoying a theatrical run across the UK following its British première at the London Film Festival. Alongside Computer Chess, William A. Wellman's Wings – the winner of the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture (1927-1928) will see its UK home-release premiere. Both titles will be released as Dual Format (Blu-ray + DVD) editions.


In February, we'll be releasing for the first time in the UK, a special edition Blu-ray and Ltd Edition Blu-ray SteelBook of Sidney Lumet's classic police drama starring Al PacinoSerpico (Original Theatrical Trailer http://bit.ly/17Tt2mE ) Secondly, we'll be releasing a Blu-ray edition of Federico Fellini's 1972 epic colour spectacle, a love-letter to the past and present of the city he loved best: Roma .

Another Italian classic arrives in March in a Dual Format (Blu-ray + DVD) release: Francesco Rosi's gripping political procedural, Le mani sulla città [Hands Over the City]. March also finds us two of the most brutally unsparing and controversial independent works of the last forty years. The first is the long-awaited (and uncut) release of Ted Kotcheff's disturbing and subversive Wake in Fright, hailed by Nick Cave as "the best and most terrifying film about Australia in existence," and which Martin Scorsese has stated to have rendered him "speechless" — released in its brilliant 2009 restoration. Prior to its home-video release, Wake in Fright will be released theatrically in selected cinemas in the UK & Eire on 7 March 2014. Here is the brand new 2014 UK theatrical trailer . The second controversial release in March is Samuel Fuller's feverish White Dog, unavailable in the UK for decades, whose premise — a stray white dog turns out to have been conditioned to attack any black person on sight — was woefully misconstrued at the time of its 1982 release; it remains one of Fuller's most passionate anti-racist statements. Both of these works will also be released in Dual Format (Blu-ray + DVD) editions.”

Managing Director of Eureka Entertainment, Ron Benson added “The finest in world cinema abounds across these seven releases, supplemented as always with a spate of special features and extras, all presented with a meticulous attention to detail and design. The same ethos applies to a film we'll be releasing in May, and for which we're thrilled to be able to provide an early sneak-announcement: Robert Altman's epic 1970s ensemble classic, Nashville, released for the first time on UK home video, in a Dual Format (Blu-ray + DVD) edition.”

23 November 2013

Review - Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess

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Cert (UK): 15
Runtime: 92 mins
Director: Andrew Bujalski
Cast: Wiley Wiggins, Myles Paige, Patrick Riester, Robin Schwartz


A work as sublime as it is surreal, Computer Chess is the latest microbudget oddity from independent filmmaker Andrew Bujalski. Set at the advent of personal computing (sometime during the early 1980s), it follows a group of programming hobbyists over one weekend as they compete in a friendly machine-vs-machine chess tournament. The aim: to engineer a piece of software that can not only out-think another computer, but ultimately out-think a human.

Its form is as idiosyncratically retro as its content: Bujalski chose to film on some of the earliest commercial video cameras, both for the vintage authenticity and to add "a transcendental character to the image," that would, according to cinematographer Matthias Grunsky, "help express the sometimes unexplainable things that happen between man and computer." True enough to the imperfect and unpredictable technology of the time, bright lights burn trails in the lens and people blur through fuzzy grey matter; like the characters, we chase glimpses of ghosts in the machine.

The search for higher artificial intelligence gives rise to some unexpected philosophical inquiries, but the socially-aloof nerd herd are often too short-sighted to grasp what anything could, or will, mean—a big part of the comedy comes from knowing that these hapless dorks will one day inherit the Earth (for an age of technological enlightenment, things are almost comically unexciting.) But what really is driving these computer-obsessives, tinkerers and scientists? What is happening between man and computer—or more worryingly, who is driving who? As we watch characters struggle and fail to break out of their own unconscious grids and behavioural loops, it becomes clear that the quest for a machine with a soul is far less pertinent than the quest for the soul in man.

Comedic elements ebb in and out of the rambling narrative: a New Age self-help group are also occupying the hotel, and the inevitable clashes between the emotionally-cold geeks and the self-loving hippy-types offer genuinely cringe-worthy laughs.

But the most arresting moments happen when Bujalski breaks the rules of his own carefully procured aesthetic: the black-and-white documentary beats that open the film eventually give way to stranger, more anarchic forms, as the video begins super-imposing on itself, reversing, slowing down, splitting in two, and for a brief moment even switches to colour. The film ends up being strangely psychedelic, but also alive to the possibility of one small thing: Change. Much of Computer Chess seems to be an attempt to grapple with that one pet theme.

Bujalski also slyly reflects the rise of independent filmmakers (his debut feature, Funny Ha Ha, helped launch the early-aughts 'mumblecore' movement) and the birth of his own child in the narrative, gifting the film with a surprisingly autobiographic tone, and the criss-crossing lines between hobby, obsession, love and family stealthily work their way into the fold without any explicit foregrounding.

Four features in, Mr. Bujalski continues to be one of American cinema's most distinct voices, and much like the unassuming pioneers at the heart of Computer Chesswho also focus on the wide implications of imperceptibly small actions—his influence may be greater felt in the years to come. Forget the singularity; as a filmic experience Computer Chess is itself, singular.

★★★★½

Pierre B

10 May 2013

Eureka Entertainment acquire Sundance-winner Computer Chess

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The groundbreaking, Alfred P. Sloan Prize-winning, and fiercely independent “artificially intelligent” comedy from Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation, Beeswax),Computer Chess which continues to collect raves on the festival circuit, is slated for a national UK theatrical release from Eureka! Entertainment and a home-video release as part of Eureka!’s The Masters of Cinema Series.

Eureka! Entertainment are thrilled to announce that they have acquired all UK/Eire rights to Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess, which had its debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival. Computer Chess is the fourth feature film from the brilliant and maverick American filmmaker Andrew Bujalski, whose previous works include Funny Ha Ha (the early ‘00s film that arguably kicked-off the so-called “mumblecore” movement of American independent cinema), Mutual Appreciation (an acclaimed comic portrait of love and longing in the milieu of the Brooklyn indie music scene), and Beeswax (which among its principals starred Alex Karpovsky, the indie filmmaker and actor who has gone on to great renown for his role in Lena Dunham’s cultural-phenomenon and hit TV series Girls).

Prior to final completion of Computer Chess, Bujalski was awarded a Tribeca Film Institute Sloan grant in 2012. Directly following Bujalski’s newest and long-anticipated film’s Sundance premiere, Computer Chess was given the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Award, which honours a film based around the theme of science and/or technology. The film went on to have its International Premiere at the latest Berlin Film Festival, and will be presented as part of the distinguished BAMcinémafest this June in Brooklyn for its New York premiere, before moving on to a major UK festival debut in anticipation of a UK theatrical run coordinated by Eureka! Entertainment in late autumn, and an early-2014 Blu-ray and DVD release as part of the highly esteemed and awarded-winning Masters of Cinema Series.

A boldly intelligent ensemble comedy with a feel and atmosphere that surpass easy comparison, Computer Chess takes place in the early-1980s over the course of a weekend conference where a group of obsessive software programmers have convened to pit their latest refinements in machine-chess and the still-developing field of artificial intelligence (AI) against an assembly of human chess masters. Computer Chess is a portrait not only of the crazy and surreal relationships that come to pass between the abundance of characters who participate in the weekend event (and among whose ranks include Wiley Wiggins, the revered indie-game developer and star of Richard Linklater’s classic Dazed and Confused), but of the very era of early computing itself – and of the first, rudimentary video games – and (if that weren’t enough) of the hopes and insecurities that persisted through the film’s “retro” digital age into the present-day — that semi-virtual, hyper-social, maybe-kind-of-dehumanised landscape that, let’s face it, is our very own 2013. If that still weren’t enough: it’s also one of the wittiest, most shift-and-cringe-in-your-seat, and entirely LOL-hilarious movies of recent times.

The UK has been great to me and my films in the past,” states Computer Chess director Andrew Bujalski, “and I couldn’t be more delighted to be bringing Computer Chess there with the (intimidatingly named!) Masters of Cinema Series. I hope that means that THEY’VE mastered cinema — I’m still, uh, working on that... And my education certainly wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t try to make at least one bizarre, left-field, mindbender movie — Computer Chess is that. I’m eager to get it to British audiences.

Ron Benson, Managing Director of Eureka! Entertainment, comments: “Computer Chess is an audacious, poignant, and entertaining movie. It’s a rare film indeed that has the capability of appealing not only to general audiences, but to hardcore film buffs, to video-game enthusiasts, to chess mavens, to science lovers, to folk who are mesmerised by ‘retro’ design in all its forms — and to anyone who’s interested in how we collectively made our way from that earliest 1980s ‘digital era’ all the way up to the period of the iPhone and of the iPad. Audiences who took interest in the smash-hit retro-gaming documentary The King of Kong — not to mention anyone who has a warm place in their heart for Robert Altman’s classic ensemble film Nashville — will fall head-over-heels with Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess.

Craig Keller, producer of The Masters of Cinema Series, remarks: “It’s an immense pleasure to be able to include Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess in The Masters of Cinema Series. With the astonishing series of films that Bujalski has directed over the last several years, this director has made his mark as one of the most consistently thrilling, most intelligent filmmakers in American cinema — okay, let’s just say world cinema taken as a whole, never mind as an ‘indie filmmaker’ or otherwise. Seeing Bujalski’s debut feature Funny Ha Ha was literally a life-changing experience for me, and he has not only consistently ‘delivered’ with each subsequent film but, from Mutual Appreciation to Beeswax, has exceeded, and checkmated, expectations. His work should be, and indeed of late has been, an inspiration to an entire generation of young filmmakers; it’s a body of work that sets the bar very high indeed for anyone, in any country, to aspire toward. Computer Chess, with its radical retro video aesthetic and wry rumination on digitality and where-we-are-today, marks another breakthrough. It’s an awesome film that’s sure to attain cult status and expose his vision to an even wider audience. It’s even farther-reaching, more ambitious, than everything he’s done before. And so I would have to say, simply and without hyperbole, that this is one of the most exciting releases we’ve had the honour of releasing.”

The Masters of Cinema Series producer Craig Keller and Eureka! Entertainment’s Managing Director Ron Benson negotiated the deal for the film with Andrew Herwitz, head of The Film Sales Company on behalf of the producers.

Computer Chess stars Patrick Riester, Myles Paige, James Curry, Robin Schwartz, Gerald Peary, and Wiley Wiggins. The film was produced by Houston King and Alex Lipschultz, and was directed by Andrew Bujalski.

check out the trailer...