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Directed by Andrew Bujalski
USA
2013

 

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.

  

Posters

Broadcast date: October 28th, 1988

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Comparison:

Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

Distribution Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:31:18  1:31:07.862  
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio matted to anamorphic frame
Average Bitrate: 7.17 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 - 1080i Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 36,262,977,630 bytes

Feature: 23,489,578,368 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentaries: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Kino

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 (Pillar Boxed)

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Deep Blue Programmer Murray Campbell
• Commentary by an enthusiastic Stoner
• Crowdfunding Plea Video (2:46)

• Sundance Film Festival Promo (2:34)

• 4 Computer Chess Reference Games

- Machines Play (3:56)

- Building Speed (7:08)

- The Bet (3:41)

-The Big Super Computer vs. The Small Super Computer (4:59)

• "4 Hot Old Personal Computers"

• 1969 Sony AVC-3260 Video Camera Tutorial by Matthias Grunsky (4:40)

• Trailers (Original, Alternate, Teaser)

DVD Release Date:  November 25th, 201
3
Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Masters of Cinema

Aspect Ratio:

1.33:1 - 1080i Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 36,262,977,630 bytes

Feature: 23,489,578,368 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Commentaries by Deep Blue Programmer Murray Campbell

• Commentary by an enthusiastic Stoner
• Andrew Bujalski's short 2013 film Analog Goose (1:38)
• New and exclusive video interviews with Bujalski (28:28), actor Wiley Wiggins (21:31), and producer Alex Lipschultz (21:15)

Promotional Material

• Kickstarter Video (3:10)

• London Film Festival Introduction (1;38)

• Sundance Film Festival Promo (2:37)

• 8 Computer Chess Reference Games (45:28)

• "6 Hot Old Personal Computers" (5:26)

• 1969 Sony AVC-3260 Video Camera Tutorial by Matthias Grunsky (4:42)

• Two trailers for the film and an Outtake Trailer
• 32-PAGE FULL-COLOUR BOOKLET featuring an essay about the film by Craig Keller; a note on the cover artist, Cliff Spohn; and an array of stills taken behind the scenes during the production of the film..

Blu-ray Release Date: January 20th, 2014
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 14

 

Comments:

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray (January 2014): My first viewing of Computer Chess, via the Kino DVD in November of 2013, was not a positive one. But I revisited when the Masters of Cinema Blu-ray came - and I guess I 'got it' and had a ball with the film. I was laughing to myself continuously.

 

Firstly, the image appearance is totally intentional. From this, Matthias Grunsky's, blog "Although I have shot movies for Andrew in the boxy 1.33:1 aspect ratio or on grainy 16mm black and white negative before, “Computer Chess” is our most extreme technical experiment so far."

 

As a solid representation of the time period - the specific Sony AVC-3260 camera was used.

 

"It has been very difficult to find working black and white tube cameras in the year 2011 but we managed to acquire three Sony AVC 3260 cameras, which were the best option within that sort for giving us a more or less stable signal to record. The Sony AVC 3260 camera’s heart is a 2/3 inch black and white Vidicon video tube."

 

[...]

 

"The artifacts of these old tube cameras are manifold and we embraced them all. Because of the tube’s nature, bright parts of the image, especially highlights, burn into the tube, meaning that when the framing changes, the shapes of these bright objects stay as shadows on the screen, sometimes making objects and people look transparent. Highlights leave a trail behind them when they move through the shot. The camera can’t handle much contrast and in extreme situations, like shooting against a light source, interesting electronic patterns like wandering black waves appear. These tubes also have a very specific soft character, which would not be easy to recreate in post. The cameras had electronic issues and sometimes would generate electronic noise when touching the camera body or the lens. All these artifacts combined add a transcendental character to the image and help express the sometimes unexplainable things that happen between man and computer in our story."

 

The 1080i is a more direct representation of the original visual intent. And the trailing (or 'combing') a function of that process. Masters of Cinema have told us:

 

"The combing lines are totally normal when two fields of the interlaced picture are shown as one progressive frame without deinterlacing. Upon playback on a progressive device like a flat screen TV, the video processor in the TV (or BD player) intelligently guesses the information from above and below, taking the 60 fields per second image and turning it into 60 frames per second.
Proper playback will not show any combing.
"

 

I agree with this as the combing is basically imperceptible when played on my home theatre system. With a film of this nature the 'lesser' quality of the image (being wholly intentional) becomes a factor in replicating that in your home theater. So, in short, get your head around this, "It is NOT SUPPOSED to look crisper, cleaner, sharper with more layered contrast!"

 

With that out of the way the softer HD image is the superior of the 2 in its theatrical representation (Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Calgary Underground Film Festival etc.).

***

 

Masters of Cinema have gone linear PCM, and again, presumably the most accurate although few with notice the slightly improved depth - the scattering of dialogue is perfectly in line with the vérité effect of the film. MoC add optional English subtitles.

 

The supplements are frequently equally as humorous as the film and add flavor to the overall milieu. Both packages include the same two commentaries - by Deep Blue Programmer Murray Campbell and, the second, by an 'enthusiastic stoner'. I won't spoil it but there is a lot of enjoy here. Some of the supplements overlap the two releases - the 3-minute Kickstarter Video, Sundance Film Festival Promo, 1969 Sony AVC-3260 Video Camera Tutorial by Matthias Grunsky, the animated Chess Reference Games (although MoC double the Kino's four of them to eight running 45-minutes) and they add 2 additional to the "Hot Old Personal Computers". Masters of Cinema add a short London Film Festival Introduction and their own revealing, exclusive, video interviews with Bujalski (28:28), actor Wiley Wiggins (21:31) - both by Craig Keller, and producer Alex Lipschultz (21:15) - done by Jon Robertson. There is also Andrew Bujalski's short 2013 film Analog Goose. There are two trailers for the film and an Outtake Trailer plus a 32-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay about the film by Craig Keller; a note on the cover artist, Cliff Spohn; and an array of stills taken behind the scenes during the production of the film.

 

We have quite the amazing, Region FREE, Blu-ray package from The Masters of Cinema gang. The painstaking process used to transport you back in time works wonderfully and the humor only grows - at an exponential rate it seems - making this a very worthwhile addition to your home theater library. Absolutely recommended! 

 

****

ON THE DVD: Strangely, the 1.33 film is transferred to an anamorphic-ally enhanced SD disc. So, essentially, it can appear 'pillar-boxed' and it slightly minimizes the natural 720 resolution that it would have been if rendered more predictably.

Great extras - that we will discuss when we compare to the upcoming Masters of Cinema Blu-ray!  

Gary W. Tooze


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1) Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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1) Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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1) Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


Box Cover

Distribution Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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