Andrew Bujalski – Computer Chess (2013)

Set over the course of a weekend tournament for chess software programmers thirty-some years ago, Computer Chess transports viewers to a nostalgic moment when the contest between technology and the human spirit seemed a little more up for grabs. We get to know the eccentric geniuses possessed of the vision to teach a metal box to defeat man, literally, at his own game, laying the groundwork for artificial intelligence as we know it and will come to know it in the future. Continue reading

Andrew Bujalski – Mutual Appreciation [+Extras] (2005)

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Indie film wunderkind Andrew Bujalski’s best attribute as a filmmaker is not his much-heralded ability to reproduce the idiomatic lingo and speech patterns of his stuck-in-neutral twentysomething subjects—who, to this ear, always sound a bit too self-consciously aimless and uncomfortable to pass as authentic—but, rather, his knack for unearthing subtle insights about interpersonal relations from meandering, seemingly improvised conversational scenes. Mutual Appreciation, the director’s follow-up to his breakthrough Funny Ha Ha, is a modest step up from its assured predecessor in both content and form, revealing discerning truths about, and wringing deadpan humor from, post-college anomie through a carefully arranged narrative structured around casual ellipses and sly symmetries, whether it be the juxtaposition of one evening’s dissimilar drunken parties or its pair of gender role reversal scenarios (one involving a man reading a woman’s short story, the other marked by some sloshed cross-dressing). Continue reading

Andrew Bujalski – Beeswax (2009)

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Plot
Jeannie (Tilly Hatcher) and Lauren (Maggie Hatcher) are a pair of twin sisters living in Austin, TX, who are close without having much in common. Jeannie, who is confined to a wheelchair, runs a well-established vintage clothing store called Storyville with her longtime friend Amanda (Anne Dodge), while Lauren drifts from job to job and is pondering an offer to teach English in Kenya. Jeannie and Amanda have had a falling out and Jeannie is worried about her stake in the business, especially since the original partnership agreements were drawn up by Amanda’s father. When Amanda suggests she may take legal action to take full control of Storyville, Jeannie decides she needs legal advice and turns to Merrill (Alex Karpovsky), a former boyfriend who has almost completed his law degree. Merrill is feeling frazzled as he tries to pass the bar exam and he welcomes the distraction, but it isn’t long before he forgets one of the first rules of legal ethics and begins sleeping with Jeannie. Lauren, meanwhile, wants to be of assistance to her sister, but she gets roped into helping her mother with her myriad problems while trying to make sense of her own future. Continue reading

Andrew Bujalski – Funny Ha Ha (2002)

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from slate.com:
The unabashedly teensy-budgeted Funny Ha Ha, written and directed by Andrew Bujalski, is actually more like Funny Strange—or even Funny Unsettling. You might be tempted to walk out in the first 20 minutes, which seem artless and aimless: not very fascinating people making not very fascinating small talk in drab settings. The by-default protagonist, Marnie (Kate Dollenmayer), is a listless 23-year-old between jobs and quietly smitten with an old friend, Alex (Christian Rudder), who has just broken up with his girlfriend. Does Alex like her? Other friends, among them Alex’s sister, don’t quite know. Alex, it seems, doesn’t quite know. Marnie doesn’t communicate her affections very forcefully. In fact, she does nothing very forcefully. She drinks a little at parties, she lies around, she hangs out with laid-back friends, and she floats. Continue reading