The Genius Club (March 11 at 4 p.m.) is a less successful drama about global politics, but it will likely get attention thanks to the C-list wattage provided by Stephen Baldwin and Tom Sizemore. Again, there’s an element of Saw here: Sizemore plays Armand, a terrorist who has an FBI agent send citizens with IQ scores above 200 along with the president (Jack Scalia) into a bunker, where they’ll spend the night solving the world’s problems or he’ll detonate a nuke. Armand communicates with the bewildered and largely belligerent group via a large video screen, forcing them to take stock of their lives while they—cue evil laugh—play a game. The ridiculous exercise in question involves Armand throwing out a series of riddles or questions about, oh, why toner is so expensive, for example, or why there’s no cure for cancer. Each correct answer earns a random number of points, and they must earn 1,000 before dawn.
In attempting to tackle a host of social issues, writer-director Tim Chey has good intentions. But writing a script in which you presume to solve the world’s problems is a tad arrogant, and the wooden acting and dialogue nearly throw The Genius Club into so-bad-it’s-good territory. (I dare you not to laugh when Scalia barks out groaners such as, “Not on my watch!” and the awkward “That’s the course I’m going to stay!”) Unfortunately, it stays in so-bad-it’s-intolerable mode for 93 minutes.
The animated short When Georgie Goes Marchin’ Home (March 2 at 6:30 p.m.) is about the Bush administration, of course, with characters rendered in the style of South Park’s Saddam Hussein (i.e., photos of their heads are attached to puppetlike bodies). Some of director David Puls’ shots—accompanied by a parody of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”—tend toward the facile (such as Bush lassoing an elderly woman pushing a walker and carrying a don’t destroy social security sign) and tasteless (Dick Cheney passing gas on the Clintons, for instance, or cartoon dramatizations of Hurricane Katrina and Abu Ghraib). There’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but when all the incidents are crammed into three minutes of film, their potency is somewhat reignited.
The Recyclergy (March 2 at 8:55 p.m.) has a strong message to deliver, but the film’s touch is so light it doesn’t feel as though it’s preaching. Jeremy Kaller’s documentary about recycling programs in the Bay Area over the past few decades includes interviews with managers of waste sites, and they’re not some craggy old men guarding a garbage dump with a dog. Instead, these personable contributors are lifelong devotees to recycling anything and everything possible, from newspapers to windows to the covers of old school-bus benches. Their devotion, coupled with the repeated statement that throwing away reusable goods is throwing value out of the community, is inspiring enough to make even the laziest trash-tosser think about what he does with those old Coke cans. One man fears that the new generation of environmentalists is too taken with trendier issues such as animal and forest preservation. This doc argues that while it’s OK to be hip, throwback movements are important, too.
For more information on the DC Independent Film Festival, visit dciff.org or call (202) 686-8867.