Roger Ebert’s review of Computer Chess (filed in March, shortly before his death in early April) was posted this morning on rogerebert.com. Directed by Andrew Bujalski, a filmmaker often associated with the mumblecore movement, Computer Chess documents a 1980s man vs. machine chess tournament in fuzzy black-and-white. (Bujalski recently talked with Brow Beat about the film’s disorienting low-fi aesthetic, which was inspired, in part, by public access television.)
Ebert praises the film’s analog production, noting that “in its technical specs, Computer Chess is flawless,” but the review goes on to offer a brusque two-star verdict, though one full of the late critic’s trademark wit and insight. “As an achievement, Computer Chess is laudable,” he writes. “As a film, it's missable.”
The critical response to Computer Chess has thus far been effusive, but Ebert’s difference of opinion is no surprise: Some of his greatest reviews, like his ebullient takedown of Blue Velvet, broke ranks with the critical consensus.
The choice to publish the review today is poignant. It’s Ebert's wedding anniversary, and on this date last year he published one of his most beautiful writings: a retrospective on how he found the love of his life, Chaz, and how that love consumed and carried him through all the tribulations of his fight with cancer.* Rogerebert.com editor Matt Zoller Seitz has also confirmed that the famed critic did indeed file a few more reviews. Ebert has kept his final promise to his readers—“I’ll see you at the movies."
*Correction, July 18, 2013: This post originally misstated Roger Ebert's birthday. It is June 18th, not July 18th.