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LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

September 19, 2005
Hopeless Pictures // beginning every Friday on IFC
Rating: 7.0

Greg the Bunny // beginning every Friday on IFC
Rating: 7.5

The Festival // beginning every Friday on IFC
Rating: 8.0


Premise: The Independent Film Channel decides to add variety to its programming with some 'independent' television. Result: The shows are more or less what one would anticipate; Imbedded in the film industry, each of the them focuses on different sides of the biz, whether it be the head of a failing production company (Hopeless Pictures), the tribulations faced by felt-covered actors (Greg the Bunny), or the premiere of a first time director's film at a festival (The Festival, obviously).

Interestingly, the show one would anticipate to be the highlight of IFC's original block, Hopeless Pictures - the animated comedy featuring the voice of Michael McKean - is actually the weakest in the channel's Friday night lineup. Far from bad however, Hopeless Pictures succeeds as a satire of not only Hollywood, but indie films as well (check the uber-ostentatious and unmarketable foreign film McKean's character has to sell to investors). The show's flaw is the same that occasionally burdens McKean's films, in that Hopeless Pictures' jokes can be a tad overwritten and end up being overbearing and certainly not as funny as some of them should or could be. Though a bit of a disappointment, Hopeless Pictures is still a fine show.

Better however, is the resurrected Greg the Bunny. Formerly one of the most overlooked shows on network television, Greg the Bunny has returned to its IFC roots (where it premiered on a national scale as a series of shorts) and has maintained most of its appeal during the transition. Seth Green and Eugene Levy are, sadly but understandably, no longer part of the regular cast (although Green does appear from time to time), but the show's lovable band of puppet misfits fill most of the voids. The series premise is, basically, short parodies of film (including classics like Annie Hall and Easy Rider), but it is at its best when focusing on the relationships between the felt characters, who are ultimately more interesting than the majority of human stars found on television. The plot of one recent episode featured the hopelessly naive Greg befriending Count Blah (a character which, in itself, is a parody of Tim Burton's Ed Wood), washed up horror star who ultimately robs Greg and the producers of the show (within the show) blind. It's funny, it's ludicrous, it's Greg the Bunny.

Better still is the impeccably dry comedy of The Festival, which follows the exploits of a first time director as he desperately tries to get his film a distribution deal (so that he can finally move out of his mom's basement). The film at the center of the show debuts at a festival in front of a documentary crew, coincidently, hired by IFC (as opposed to say, the Sundance Channel). Like a great British comedy, The Festival (which is actually Canadian) relishes in the miseries of its loser of a main character (Rufus, played to perfection by Nicolas Wright) and the general absurdities of his surroundings. The said fatuities include (but as is made clear, are certainly not limited to) a self-absorbed leading man/childhood friend (James A. Woods) and a short film director who forces herself into Rufus' hotel room and makes him help promote her new production, "You Are Afraid of My Vagina." (More) problems soon enter the fray as Rufus' film is lost (he insists on carrying around the canisters of film, the only print in existence, himself), more than once, while the buzz around it continues to grow, eventually causing a bidding war and becoming an "Internet legend" as the best film no one has ever seen. Overall, The Festival is a great comedy that deserves its impending status as a sleeper/cult hit. And when the show is littered with lines like "Do we really need to be that close to your vagina?" - how could it not be?

SEE ALSO: www.ifctv.com

--
Tim Smith
LAS' resident television expert.

See other articles by Tim Smith.

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