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Monday, June 3, 2013

June Film Club: Documentary #1

The first film we will be watching for the month of June is Seth Gordon's delightful documentary, The King of Kong: A fistful of Quarters.

The film is a 2007 American documentary film that follows Steve Wiebe as he tries to take the world high score for the arcade game Donkey Kong from whom the film presents as reigning champion, Billy Mitchell.  In Ottumwa, Iowa, Walter Day founded Twin Galaxies, an organization formed to keep track of high score achieved on arcade games in the Unite States.  Billy Mitchell, having achieved the highest ever recorded scores on Donkey Kong and Centipede in the 1980s, remains a video game legend in 2005.  On the other side of the country, in Redmond, Washington, Boeing employee Steve Wiebe has been laid off as a Boeing engineer, and now spends his time as a science teacher.  His friends and his wife, Nicole, describe him as an unfortunate figure who always comes up short, despite being proficient at music, sports, art, and mathematics.  Preparing to get back into the workforce, Wiebe begins going to night school to get a master degree and obtains a Donkey Kong machine to play in his garage as a pastime.  After reading about Mitchell's world record of 874,300 on the internet, Wiebe focuses on mastering Donkey Kong and successfully achieves a score of 1,006,600 points.  Wiebe submits the tape to Twin Galaxies, which propels him to becoming a local celebrity and news topic as the new world record holder for a few weeks.  However, Mitchell sends his self-styled protege, retired banker turned pro-gamer Brian Kuh, to investigate Wiebe's machine.  Kuh find that the machine's circuit board was provided by Roy Schildt, who claims to hold the high score for Missile Command.  Unbeknownst to Wiebe, Shcildt and Mitchell have been nemeses for years ever since Mitchell caused Schildt's high score to be brought under scrutiny, preventing him from receiving official recognition from Twin Galaxies.  They believe Wiebe's board may have been tampered with in order to get revenge on Mitchell.  In order to prove his gaming skills, Wiebe travels to Funspot Arcade in Laconia, New Hampshire, to perform a high score live for Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day and other high-ranking members of Twin Galaxies, hoping to confront Mitchell and play head-to-head.

This film holds a 96% certified fresh rating on the aggregate review site out of 98 critical reviews.

I really loved this film, and I hope you will too.  We will be meeting Thursday, June 20th at 6:15pm.  Hope to see you there.

Here's the trailer:

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