Today three movies were seen that by coincidence, could all fall under the label of documentaries.

Documentary movies

The movies that I picked to be seen with a  friend today just so happen to be different types of documentaries. Computer Chess is a dark comedy set in the 1984 world of computers vs computers, 47 Ronin is a very close retelling of a Japanese myth, and Parkland is about the killing of John F. Kennedy.

Computer Chess

Computer Chess is a comedy about a 1984 tournament pitted between computers and their programmers, all competing to have the best computer playing software and competing against other computer chess machines.

Most of the film takes place in black and white under the guise of a documentary, and is set in a shabby hotel that hosts other events such as new age swingers.

With challenging ideas such as machines being unable to compete against the human soul, this movie has many unresolved situations such as the possibility of a mechanical-turk equivalent taking place throughout the competition, one machine doesn’t do well against computer opponents but performs much better against a human opponent, and ends with a final surreal touch to things when a local hooker is taken to the protagonists room only to be found when she strips to have a head full of circuitry.

Surreal and odd is this documentary-style movie, and leaves you with more questions unanswered than resolved. Still, I feel that it’s well worthwhile having seen it for the questions that it poses about humanity.

47 Ronin

47 Ronin is a hollywood-style retelling of a 300-year-old story of exiled samurai, seeking to avenge their master, with an unrequited love story between the lowly Kai (Keanu Reeves) and the high born mayor’s daughter Mika (Ko Shibasaki).

Kai is born from elsewhere and raised by others, and does his best to fit in, but no matter how much skill he may have in the art of warfare he will not be accepted.

Due to training in magic from his upbringing, he’s able to see a magic fox of mischief that has differently coloured eyes, and connect it to a women with similarly coloured eyes who is a witch. When this witch causes the mayor to attack an unarmed sleeping guest, the mayor chooses to take the honorable path of sepukku instead of being beheaded, and his samurai all are disbanded and become ronin, with no lord or master.

Years later when the head samurai is released from prison, Mika is forced in to marriage by the man responsible for the death of their master. The leader goes to get Kai who helps them to gain swords, and a plan is formed to take revenge for their master’s death before the marriage takes place.

With fabulous creature effects throughout this movie and a story that all but for hyper-charging Keanu, remains very close to the original story.

Parkland

Parkland is a very well told and highly realistic telling of the events surrounding the killing of John F. Kennedy, and focuses primarily on four groups of people

  • Abraham Zapruder who filmed the killing and how it forever changed his quiet life
  • The FBI who were keeping a low-level track on Lee Harvey Oswald
  • The staff of Dallas Parkland Hospital and how they dealt with not only J.F.K. but just days later, Lee Harvey Oswald too
  • And lastly about Lee’s brother Robert and his poorly deranged mother with delusions of grandeur and an imperious desire to be important

The hospital scenes are graphically striking, and conveys well the numb sense of shock as the emergency is being dealt with.

Cluttered though the movie is with amazing actors, it doesn’t feel over the top and works in well with the sometimes frantic events that took place.

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