MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Of course, it's not just politicians turning to the online world to get their message out. Indie film outlets like the Sundance Channel and IFC are putting original content on the web. Critic Andrew Wallenstein tuned in, or I should say, logged on.
ANDREW WALLENSTEIN: Thought-provoking. Moving. These are the adjectives that describe much of independent film, but not a lot of internet entertainment. So when I heard Sundance and IFC were giving it a try, I was hopeful they could bring their best qualities to the medium. And what did I get? Foreign actors dressed up as animals, talking animals. The first short-form series from brands are oddly similar. Even stranger, though these projects were developed separately, IFC's parent company, Cablevision, bought Sundance earlier this month.
Well, perhaps the two can pool their brainpower next time out, because neither of these efforts is a winner. In the case of Sundance, it might actually be the weirdest thing I've ever seen on the internet, which on the internet is saying a lot. The Italian actress Isabella Rossellini inexplicably stars in "Green Porno," a supposed-to-be-comic look at the mating habits of insects and other garden creatures. She dons full body costumes of an earthworm, firefly, praying mantis, and in this scene, a snail.
(Soundbite of internet video "Green Porno")
Ms. ISABELLA ROSSELLINI (Actor): (As Snail) I can withdraw my entire body into my shell. I can produce darts. I use them to inflict pain on my partners before mating. It turns me on. I love to be hurt, too.
(Soundbite of moan and sigh)
WALLENSTEIN: While beautifully shot, "Green Porno" is so bizarre it kills the intended comedy within. Or perhaps it's just the presence of Rossellini, who you'd think would have better things to do. If I were her, I wouldn't so much as fire her agent as I would fire at her agent. Like, with a gun.
IFC fares better with the first of a collection of web series it's unspooling all summer. Instead of talking insects, its debut show, "Wilfred," presents a talking dog. Only this dog is a little more complicated than those sadomasochistic snails. Wilfred is so protective of his beautiful owner, Sarah, that her new beau, Adam, suspects he may actually be killing her former boyfriends. And yet, Adam can't help but befriend Wilfred, who's played hilariously by Australian actor Jason Gann. He stays deadpan even as his costume's floppy ears brush past his five o'clock shadow. In this scene, Wilfred shares his abandonment issues with Adam.
(Soundbite of show "Wilfred")
Mr. JASON GANN (Actor): (As Adam) A couple of years ago, bloke come along, remind me a bit of yourself, didn't like him the moment I first laid eyes on him. But everyone said give him a chance. So, I give him a chance. What does he do? He goes and leaves the gate open, doesn't he? I get out, run away, almost get run over.
WALLENSTEIN: Wilfred is good fun, but not what I expect from a brand known for independent films. IFC is chasing online video's only discernible trend, juvenile humor, rather than present challenging, idiosyncratic work. But that's just what we should be getting from IFC and Sundance.
BRAND: Andrew Wallenstein is deputy editor of the Hollywood Reporter.