At the outset, this low-fi gem from godfather of mumblecore Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation) seems to go out of its way to appear uninviting. Shot on fuzzy black-and-white video and set in the early ’80s, it’s a pseudo-documentary centred on the Annual North American Computer Chess Tournament.
Our host is chess master Pat Henderson (Gerald Peary), a man spectacularly lacking in charisma. Proceedings open with a stilted panel discussion. Excitement? Barely discernible. But it’s not long before things heat up – in a uniquely deadpan fashion.
A winning mix of deadpan comedy, retro stylings and escalating insanity. Too idiosyncratic for some perhaps, but this one-of-a-kind indie makes ’80s nostalgia feel new again.