Sunday, March 3, 2013

Family Movie Night: Game Over

Title: Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine
Director: Vikram Jayanti
Original Release: 2003
Choice: Mine
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Image via Amazon

A few weeks ago, we watched Searching for Bobby Fischer.  In my review of that film, I discussed my love of chess and also the possibility of watching this movie, a documentary about Grandmaster Garry Kasparov's showdown with the IBM computer Deep Blue in 1997.  We watched Game Over last night and while I enjoyed it, I am glad we watched Fischer first. 

The primary focus of Game Over is Kasparov's assertion that the IBM team cheated in the second game of the six-game match.  Essentially, Kasparov set a trap for the computer.  Deep Blue responded with a move which Kasparov contends a machine could not have made on its own.  He suspected human intervention and his obsession with the matter ultimately led to his defeat in the game and the match.  As a documentary about Kasparov's anxiety, the film works.  I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of clips from the silent 1927 French film, Le joueur d'echecs, a similar fictional story set in 19th century Russia. 

Some professional critics slammed the film for its bias towards Kasparov's position, not giving IBM sufficient opportunity to defend its integrity.  In the end, the company is cast as just another corporate empire out to drive its share prices up, ethics be damned.  As for myself, I would have liked more technical discussion of chess.  The game itself took a backseat to the psychological warfare between the two camps.

Multi-generational considerations:
  • Searching for Bobby Fischer is definitely more fun, so probably a better choice to watch with kids.  Our Girl made it through but there was some heavy sighing towards the end.
  • In the film's denouement, there's a spectacular shot of Lake Bled in Slovenia.  "Let's go there!" My Wife said.
Photo via World for Travel


  1. I thought of two films that merit five stars, in my opinion. The mid-'90s BBC A&E adaptation of 'Pride and Prejudice' with Jennifer Ehle and this.

    1. You know, I don't think I've seen either - at least not all the way through.

      My wife is a big Jane Austen fan and would probably agree with you on the first. We may even own a copy of it. Isn't there one version with Colin Firth? She's a BIG Colin Firth fan.

      As for Anne, you know that I love the book very much. I watched part of the TV series but that was years ago. It would be interesting to watch with fresh eyes now, having read the story. I did watch the entirety of the second series - Anne of Avonlea - and enjoyed it very much.

    2. The adaptation I mentioned stars Firth. I loved him in 'The King's Speech.'

      I'd be very surprised if your sister isn't intimately familiar with the Sullivan adaptation of 'Anne.' Most Green Gables devotees adore that one.

    3. Well, of course my sister watched it! At that I age, I still thought of it as a "girl story."

      Okay, then I know the P&P movie you mean. It is good.

    4. Both of those adaptations are just indulgent enough. They truly realize the stories from which they came and allow the viewer to merge with the characters. It was easy and pleasant for me to lose track of the boundaries between my experience and those of Lizzie on the one hand and lovely, lovely Anne on the other.

      For me, Megan Follows *is* Anne and Jon Crombie *is* Gil. I didn't watch the film until I was in my early twenties because my sister kept telling me, you have to watch this movie, you're Anne! While I didn't feel we were psychic carbon copies or anything, there were a number of both biographical coincidences and similarities of temperament that were impossible to deny. But I imagine many, many young girls believe themselves to be kindred spirits with Miss Shirley.

    5. Nice!

      I tried to think if there are any of my favorites which afforded me a similar immersion experience. One really important film for me was "Stand by Me." I saw it at exactly the right age, for one thing. It was also the beginning of my awareness that quality of writing really matters in storytelling, regardless of medium. I don't think I could have articulated it that way at the time, though.

    6. That adaptation of King's 'The Body' had so many right, right variables working in its favor. Bloody fantastic script, impeccably-rendered cinematography -- small-town sinister held at bay at the very edges but definitely crouching throughout -- deeply evocative soundtrack and a truly five-star cast.

      It's been a hundred years since I've seen it but I don't know why I'd knock any stars off that one. And the very last line Dreyfuss delivers ('Jesus, does anyone?' if memory serves) had salt squeezing out of the corners of my eyes even as a very young girl.

      Also must mention what an exquisite small role John Cusack delivered with just nothing, nothing wanting.

      Gosh, I didn't even realize how highly I thought of that film until just now but I guess the fact that I'm writing MG has me thinking about those poignant moments that are so beautifully distilled from the perspective of a a very young person. There's nothing to compare. Nothing. It's unfettered and pure.

    7. Because of the movie, "The Body" is, in fact, the only Stephen King story I've read beginning to end.

      Funny story - first time I saw the movie was with my grandmother who was, quite understandably, horrified by the language. "You don't talk like that with your friends, do you?!!!" she cried.

      I was so deeply moved by what I'd seen that her reaction was hard to take. We talked through it, though, and I think I got her to understand why the story was so important to me, and even that I was old enough to see past the language (which WAS realistic) to appreciate the quality of the work. In the end, it was a point of growth in our relationship. I'm not sure she ever stopped seeing me as her sweet, innocent little boy (she died when I was 24) but those moments when we were able to connect on an adult level were important.

    8. Oh, Person. I think it'd take me days to properly respond to this comment.

      Raising my 1940s Jadeite c-handle mug filled with piping hot coffee (not subliminal) to your grandmother.

    9. Yup, she was a keeper - one of the most important people in my life. My daughter reminds me of her often. Interestingly, they share a birthday - 95 years apart.

    10. That has to be meaningful (shared b-day.) It just has to be.

    11. I'd like to think so. Also, every once in a while I'll catch a glimpse of my daughter in profile or something and think that she looks like Grandma. It's more than a little strange to see your grandmother in a nine-year-old girl but it happens.

    12. I've seen my mother-in-law in my daughter when I least expect it. It's a bit magical when it happens because it's so quiet and yet so strong, and no one else is there, really, to catch this strange, glorious persistence. Just you when you watch them move a certain way or the backs of their legs or something gestalt like that. It feels like the universe letting you in through a secret door that also happens to be very pretty.

      Our daughters are the same age.

    13. :)

      Will reply to your explanation of scales when I've had a chance to sit at the piano with your words. Zipping out the door for the rest of the afternoon but I've read your answer. Putting proper processing on hold for a moment. Thank you!

    14. I look forward to your thoughts.

    15. Well, I've posted them ...

    16. My pleasure. Happy to spread the faith.

    17. Squidman of the cloth. :)

    18. Even us heathens manage to find spirituality through other avenues.

    19. I get it! (Your last explanation.)

      And haha.

      Thank you, again. Have a very good night. I look forward to your 'surprise' haiku, tomorrow.