An Open Letter To the Filmmaker Behind Computer Chess in the Style of Writing Workshop Critique Letter

3 Oct

Dear Andrew Bujalski,

It’s me, C. Charles, you remember that one guy at the Q & A session during a festival screening of Mutual Appreciation, remember I asked you about the music in the film right after you talked about the music in the film? Well, anyway, it’s not important who I am. Just think of me as some dude who writes for the most amateur of all the amateur pop culture blogs who wants you to know what I think about your most recent film Computer Chess. That’s all I need to be for this thinly developed premise to work.


First, let me thank you for letting me view your movie, Computer Chess. We all know that putting your art out into the world can be a touch traumatic at best. So, thank you for taking that risk. I’ll start with a summary of what I thought happened in the film: sometime before 1984 there was a competition between a bunch of computer programmers who designed different types of chess playing programs designed to play other chess playing programs. Your film is about the most successful, best funded, brightest and most interesting of this little-known subculture from the dawn of technological advances we all know and love today.

The best thing about this film is that you used era appropriate video equipment to shoot the entire movie, which gives it this great black and white look. The way you shot it really shows that there is more to a good-looking movie that image quality. Sure, the equipment you use to shoot the film has a terrible aspect ratio, the occasional distortion and all detail are lost around direct light, but it is still a beautiful movie. It just goes to show that as prevalent as DSLR cameras are these days, they still need to be in competent hands to make a good-looking movie. Oh, and while we’re talking about the contrast between yesteryear technology and today’s, I just want to say how brilliantly you’ve been able to represent our (read: societies[sub-read: my]) trepidation about technology advancing at such a breakneck pace and show its presence even at the dawn of technology. We can glance at the sun, just don’t stare at it.


Another great thing about your film is your casting, the anachronistic costumes and props. I imagine that people very often get confused and think this is a documentary from a past time period. Everyone looks the part of a computer programmer in the dawn of computers, but what is really great about it is that you show there is a wide variety of characters. It wasn’t just twenty actors all dressed up like nerds from the eighties. Each character is easily recognizable, which really helps with a cast of this size.

The next step I think you should take with this film is really play up the surreal aspects of the film. They are so unique and brilliant and perfectly placed and timed out that I think you might want to add more of it throughout the movie. You know what they say. “play to your strengths.” For example, maybe you should have one of the computers start talking in a robot voice or something. Maybe use more emoticons, like the winky smiley face one after a computer makes a joke. Oh, and the joke could be something like after the programmer puts in the code for next move and the computer just types “Does not compute, Dave” on the screen instead of suggesting where to move next. Then after the programmers like “Uh-oh, we’ve got a problem here” or “My name’s not Dave” then the computer can just type “; )” Haha! That’d be so good, and it’d really almost make the computers like another character in the film. Another suggestion is to have the female character a touch bustier. Did it ever cross your mind to make her fall in love with a computer? Maybe the aforementioned-emoticon-using-computer could run a program that makes her clothes fly off. The joke would be tasteful, but still have her naked for like a second then she shrieks and tries to cover herself with. . . haha, you guessed it, the chess board. Then you’d really be foreshadowing what computers will be used for.

Well, thanks again for letting me watch this film. I hope my comments are helpful and I can’t wait to see more of your work. Great work!

C. Charles


4 Responses to “An Open Letter To the Filmmaker Behind Computer Chess in the Style of Writing Workshop Critique Letter”

  1. postcardsfromme October 3, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

    Really relatable! And you spelled amateur wrong.

    • ccharlesconfidential October 3, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

      *EDITED: to correct the spelling of ‘amateur’

      D’oh. C’est ma vie.

  2. Carl Wells October 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    So you’d improve the movie with a “bustier” girl who we get to see naked? Big Breasted Nudity in a movie, that’s a very sophisticated improvement, in fact I’d say that would make every movie better.

    • ccharlesconfidential October 6, 2013 at 1:11 am #

      I was going to suggest that there were more explosions, wacky sidekicks crossing their eyes at humorous moments and that the whole thing was shot in 3D, but since I know they are working on a budget I just limited it to the nudity

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