'Computer Chess' shows real affection for its subjects

( Unrated ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Computer Chess' is shot as a faux documentary and takes place over a weekend conference where programmers face off against chess software.

Courtesy of Kino Lorber, Inc.
'Computer Chess' stars Wiley Wiggins (l.) and Patrick Riester (center).

I hope it won’t be interpreted as slim praise if I say that “Computer Chess,” set in 1980, is one of the best movies about pre-Internet nerds ever made. After all, it’s not easy making the pocket protector crowd interesting, even fascinating.

The key, I think, is that writer-director Andrew Bujalski holds out great affection for these people. Shot as a faux documentary in black and white, the film takes place during an annual regional weekend conference where geek programmers compete with their latest chess software. With one exception, all the entrants are male, presided over by a chess master (a very funny Gerald Peary) who boasts he can beat any program. The hotel housing the event is also the setting for a couples-therapy confab. Geeks and swingers. What a combination. Grade: B+ (Unrated.)

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