August 23rd, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I haven’t seen director Andrew Bujalksi’s earlier films, but as far as I can tell, this singular film cannot be considered similar to any film I’ve ever seen, and surely that includes Bujalski’s own oeuvre as well.
COMPUTER CHESS is the perfect lead in to our celebration of dead video formats (lots of great VHS docs and VHS film rarity presentations just on the horizon, if you hadn’t noticed). Shot entirely on vintage B&W analog video equipment, this film achieves a look that no other film has ever done. Of course, much of that has to do with the immaculate production design and costuming that makes you believe 100% that you’re looking at home video quality footage circa 1980.
What also lends the film incredible atmosphere is the superbly subtle and underacted characters that populate this world of chess masters and computer programmers. Combining two of the perhaps geekiest hobbies/professions, Bujalski still manages to craft performances that dance around the tropes that your average director would throw at you (D&D, pit stains, speech impediments, etc). The humor is delicate, dry, and, with few exceptions, almost imperceptible. Throw in a sub plot that may or may not involve the birth of artificial intelligence, and you have a master class film.
This film was one of the most unique films I saw at SIFF 2013, and it was lost in a wash of Baumbachs and Gordon Greens in among the New American Cinema films. This film won the Alfred P. Sloan award at Sundance; if you’re feeling adventurous, give this film a try. You’ll never see anything quite like it.
—computer chess, as on the nose as a title gets, dan
August 9th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I’ve seen ’em before, and I saw ’em again.
These were the JURASSIC PARK and INDIANA JONES of the day. I know I would have been lining up for matinees of these fantastic flicks were I a kid in the 50s or 60s, instead my Ray Harryhausen was Stan Winston.
But I know where it started and I know the score. You don’t get to Winston and Spielberg without Harryhausen, and I will make the pilgrimage from time to time. The pure artistry of Harryhausen’s models and practical effects put even some 21st century technicians and CG modelers to shame. The skeletons, oh the skeletons! In traditional Hollywood fashion, you have to up the ante. Thus the single skeleton from the end of 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD becomes seven skeletons at the end of JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS.
There’s a sense in Harryhausen films of the truly wondrous. He had a true respect for mythology and fantasy and fairy tales that came through in the films, and his stop motion models had the spark of life and personality about them.
And I gotta say, it’s nice to tribute a real Hollywood auteur with 35mm print presentations. Only at the GI.
—cyclops, rocs, and hydras, oh my, dan
August 2nd, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Look I’ll be straight with you. It’s my birthday, and I haven’t had any time for fun yet. So I’m making the executive decision to make this one of my briefest blogs ever.
What do you need to know about this week’s movie, GRABBERS? It’s a pretty damn good time, and proves the Irish have a pretty good sense of humor about themselves and aren’t afraid to take a national stereotype all the way. Which stereotype? I think you know which one I’m talking about. This movie’s premise? The only way to survive against blood-sucking space squids is to GET BLOODY DRUNK!
This is a pretty fun flick, filled with British and Irish character actors you’ll recognize if you see a regular number of productions from the other side of the pond. If you are a fan of our late night programming (this is another IFC Midnight film), this is the movie for you. With one of my SIFF 2013 Midnight Adrenaline faves COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES, another spectacular British genre film, playing across town this weekend, this is the week to be be an Anglo/Celtic and genre film fan!
—GI forever, dan