A breakthrough—not just for indie writer-director Andrew Bujalski (Mutual Appreciation, Beeswax), but for American movie comedy—this zany, intellectually dense, and surprisingly chilling period piece (2013) may be the closest film equivalent yet to the work of Thomas Pynchon. It takes place in the early 80s, at a motel conference where teams of first-generation computer geeks (many of them played by actual programmers) pit their chess-playing software programs against each other. Everything seems trivial—until the spirit of paranoia enters the proceedings in the form of rumors, rivalries, drug-induced hallucinations, and ultimately the suspicion that one of the computers can think for itself. Bujalski shot this on vintage video cameras, giving it the appearance of an old public television documentary; but as the narrative gets ever stranger, the deadpan realism gives way to increasingly experimental flourishes, as if the movie itself had gained a will of its own.