Movie Reviews
Genius Party at Fantasia 2008
By Al Kratina
July 5, 2008 - 22:52

Genius Party
2007, Japan
Director: Atsuko Fukushima, Shoji Kawamori, Shinji Kimura, Yoji Fukuyama, Hideki Futamura, Masaaki Yuasa, Shinichiro Watanabe
Screenplay: Shoji Kawamori, Mitsuyoshi Takasu, Yoji Fukuyama, Hideki Futamura, Masaaki Yuasa, Shinichiro Watanabe
Producers: Yukie Saeki
Cast: Yuya Yagira, Rinko Kikuchi, Lu Ningjuan, Taro Yabe, Tomoko Kaneda
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Animation
Distributor: Studio 4°C
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 85 minutes

The word ‘genius’ is overused these days. Technically, I’m a genius, because I’m really good at cheating on Internet IQ tests. But I can’t use an ATM without losing my bankcard, and I recently filed a newspaper article in which I claimed that four plus two equals eight.

So, it was with some scepticism that I sat down to watch Genius Party, a compendium of animated films from Japan’s Studio 4°C. But while some of the seven films were more idiot than savant, I will admit that the mean IQ of the film is higher than average.

Of the seven films, it’s Masaaki Yuasa's Happy Machine which is the strongest. A strange story of a young child born in world that crosses a Salvador Dali painting with discarded Dr. Seuss doodles and a William Gibson novel, the film is surreal without becoming nonsense. The introductory film, by Atsuko Fukushima, comes a little closer to crossing that line than I would like, with an drifting narrative about a guy dressed like a stork and a bunch of shrunken heads.

Shanghai Dragon, about an anime obsessed child, is also a standout, especially compared to a somewhat derivative Tim Burton-inspired short that follows it. Doorbell, from director Yuki Fukuyama, seeks to fill in the tiny gaps between the plot conceits of Fight Club and The Mechanic. Baby Blue closes out the collection, standing out as it approaches its melancholy story of a high school friendship with an unusually realist approach.

Geniuses among readers may notice that I’ve only mentioned six of the seven films. That’s because Limit Cycle, an animated version of Waking Life that somehow manages to be even more stoned and pretentious, lulled me into a stupor, and I remember nothing of it other than an annoying soft-edged cyber punk aesthetic, and the distinct impression that the film was making me lose valuable Internet IQ points.


Rating: 7/10

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