Distractions for Pretty Little Liars fans: Or what you should be watching while you’re waiting for season six [SPOILERS].

Waiting for the season 6 summer premier of Pretty Little Liars on ABCFamily is agonizing. We thought we’d have some respite following the #BigAReveal which ended up being a pretty great episode but not exactly satisfactory, reveal-wise.pll

But there’s no reason why life should stop until we’re finally told, once and for all, #WhoIsA and #WhoIsCharles (I have my theories). In the meantime, we deserve to be emotionally messed with in the manner which we’re accustomed to. I’m going to give you some insight on which shows have the plot twists, characters and stories to do so.

1. How To Get Away With Murder
As devout fans of Pretty Little Liars, we are — I hesitate to say addicted but that’s probably what we are — addicted to the feeling of what is happening right now, I can’t even that PLL provides us with amply (not to mention the attractive faces and dramatic relationships). Just when you think they can’t, they do.

Watching the series premiere of How to Get Away With Murder, I felt the familiar anxiety, confusion and need for answers that accompanies a forty-two minute dose of PLL. As three (not one, not two, but THREE) intricate murder plots were woven and weaved and painted and sculpted in front of me, I knew that this was a show that would make me keep coming back for more, as Liars has done for five seasons now. It’s not a choice, it’s a need.

Guy, we have to bury the body
Guys, Ali’s missing.

Picture this: four pretty, young things looking panicked and scared. It’s nighttime in Pennsylvania and these four have just done something unspeakable. Have they MURDERED someone? Who? Why? How? FLASHBACK- three months earlier. No explanations. Sound familiar? Remind you of a stormy night in a barn in Pennsylvania when four different pretty, young things, looking panicked and scared, discovered that their best friend was missing only to find out that she was murdered? What? She was murdered? By whom? Why? How? NO EXPLANATIONS.

It seems to all lead back to one thing for both shows. I am going to call this plot device Laura Palmer syndrome because Twin Peaks did it first. A young girl is missing and the case is surrounded by mysterious characters and sinister motives. Anyone you ask will tell you that Laura Palmer/Alison DiLaurentis/Lila Stangard was a good girl: popular with her classmates, well-liked by the community and headed towards a bright future. Further digging, however, uncovers a prostitution ring/vast amounts of blackmail/drug trafficking. What I’m saying is this: it doesn’t matter who the girl was who went missing, or even what she did to get herself dead (because usually she has it coming, let’s be real). What matters is what happens to the people who are affected by the disappearance. The metaphorical Laura Palmer is a plot device — one that PLL and HTGAWM both employ with skill.

Probably murdered by an older man because she had it coming.
Probably almost murdered by an older man(?) because she definitely had it coming.

It’s true, that How To Get Away With Murder deals with grown up stuff like law school while the girls in Pretty Little Liars are still taking their sweet time graduating from high school. PLL definitely exercises our fashion sense more than HTGAWM will. But the two shows share more than a missing blonde girl and the use of acronyms. Both shows are plot driven and character central. Both have couples we’re rooting for and relationships we’re rooting against. They both expand television’s representation of the LGBTQ community in positive ways. Each has those really ridiculous moments in the plot which cause you to stop and think, “this would never actually happen.” And the case for both shows is that you’re willing to ignore the skepticism, accept the incredulous nature of it all and, after a while, welcome the absurdity willingly.

So, what’s that, Shonda Rhimes, creator of HTGAWM? You’re not going to hand us, the viewers, motive, means and opportunity with a nice, shiny bow on top? Well, that’s actually just perfect because we’re seasoned professionals of suspense. Your pilot is child’s play compared to last year’s PLL finale. Or the year before that. Or the year before THAT. Bring it.

Buy How To Get Away With Murder now on Hulu Plus

2. Eye Candy

This show is like PLL but with WAY more blood (and not quuuuuite as good acting).

Another teenage girl gone missing. (Being sixteen is dangerous, seriously.) Someone in a hoodie abducts her (sound familiar?) while her big sister, Lindy, watches helplessly.

Three years later, Lindy signs up for Tinder (basically, but they call it Flirtual which is pretty catchy) and starts getting threatening texts. From a serial killer. The idea of a social media serial killer is absolutely fascinating and so relevant to right now.

This is not a show to watch alone at night. I’m currently watching it and it’s, like, dusk-ish, and that’s too dark. Watch it at noon, with a fully charged phone and preferably with multiple people at home with you. Like a party. Watch Eye Candy during a daytime party.

eye candy
“I need you to be straight up with me: is there a serial killer in my house right now?”

The one thing that Eye Candy seems to get is that, when you’re being stalked, threatened and hunted, you should probably alert the authorities. While Lindy doesn’t exactly trust the cops, she doesn’t cover up her “A” ‘s crimes (which always makes everything worse) either. But then, if it were me, I’d lock myself in a panic room. Or move far, far away.

Blasting through the first season of Eye Candy will be super cathartic for a PLL fan because you’re actually given answers. And you won’t have to wait six seasons for them, because Eye Candy wasn’t renewed. If you’re looking for a quick fix, this is it.

Stream Eye Candy now on Hulu Plus

3. Twin Peaks

Fire walk with me.

The original missing girl in a mysterious town with sketchy people and bad intentions plot. Laura Palmer was the original Alison DiLaurentis. On the surface, she was the perfect popular girl. But she was up to no good and many people wanted to see her shut up.

Twin Peaks is so amazingly classic from its Microsoft Word title logo to the iconic theme song. Though it jumped the shark before the series ended, Twin Peaks was, in many ways, a game-changer for television drama. Laura Palmer and Special Agent Dale Cooper proved that an audience would stick by to see a mystery unravel over the course of multiple seasons. But what’s more, the show has one of the most unique cast of characters to ever be written.

There has been much talk about a Twin Peaks revival and, if that comes to happen, you’re going to want to be ready.

Quick tip: have some pie around when you’re getting ready to binge watch Twin Peaks. Thank me later.

Stream Twin Peaks now on Netflix Instant or Hulu Plus

4. Orphan Black

I’m beginning to realize crazy is genetic.

Orphan Black? you ask. One of these is not the same. I acknowledge that Orphan Black doesn’t really fit in with the Good Girl Gone Dead theme that these other shows share and maybe you’d think a show like The Killing would be better suited for this slot.

But I maintain that fans of PLL will ardently love Orphan Black regardless of lack of dead/missing 16 year old because, at the end of the day, we watch Pretty Little Liars because we love the Liars. They have individual personalities and unique wants and needs but they share a badass sister bond that’s unbreakable. Orphan Black is all about the badass chicks with unique personalities.

Orphan Black definitely has enough intrigue to hook a fan of PLL and it also has plenty of pretty people, even if most of them are Tatiana Maslany.

Stream Orphan Black now on Amazon Prime

5. Veronica Mars

Here’s the thing about Veronica Mars. It’s my favorite show of all time. Nothing’s going to replace it.

There might never have been an Anna, had there not first been a Veronica.

Here’s another thing about Veronica Mars. A lot of your favorite actors got their start here.

If I was forced to pick one season of any show to put in a time capsule, or one season of any show to bring on a desert island, or one season of any show to live in, it would be the first season of Veronica Mars.

Kristen Bell plays the title character, a popular girl turned outcast whose best friend was murdered. Her dad was the sheriff until he was kicked out of office following the murder. He opens a private detective agency (obviously) and goes from authority figure to coolest PI ever. Veronica’s mom up and abandons the family for basically no reason. Veronica goes to a party to prove that she doesn’t care what her peers think and ends up drugged and raped.

It’s a rough year.

But instead of crying over her bad luck, Veronica gets a taser and goes looking for answers.

Veronica Mars uses her own resources to investigate the unsolved case and be a general kickass lady. There’s an episode-long mystery within just about every episode but Veronica never loses sight of what’s most important to her: finding her best friend’s killer.

You know what they say, Veronica Mars, she’s a marshmallow.

This show also features my ultimate OTP and my favorite snarky quotes of all time.

Veronica Mars ended too soon when it fell victim to the creation of The CW. Fans mourned for years before we decided to pay for a movie ourselves. We broke kickstarter records.

If you want to come over and watch Veronica Mars, that invitation is literally always open. Call me.

Stream Veronica Mars now on Amazon Prime

Stay tuned!



For the love of street haunting and cinema

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 10.53.18 PM“What is this film called Love?” is a poetic travelogue of filmmaker Mark Cousins’ three-day layover in Mexico City. But it’s so much more than that. As Cousins treks through the city streets, he carries out an imaginary conversation with his laminated 8.5″x11″ photo of Sergio Eisenstein, moving the documentary beyond the notion of travel to contemplate memory, solitude, landscape and ultimately the nature of happiness.

Who is Sergio Eisenstein and why does he warrant such a grand gesture? In short, he was a Soviet Russian filmmaker and theorist. He pioneered the montage, adding a level of complexity to the medium of film that revolved around the theory of visual metaphor– combining images and symbolic meanings to provoke a certain effect in viewers. He made films that are political and poetic. He loved Mexico City, and referred to it as a geography upon which his entire being was stretched across.

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The voice-over narration is rich with allusions to literature and poetry. This made the English Major in me feel like tap dancing. If you love reading, you will love this film. Your ears will perk up at references to Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf on the pleasures of street haunting, to Robert Frost and apple picking, to Joan Didion and her tear-jerking essay on leaving New York City, to Ralph Waldo Emerson and the myth of permanence.

What I found most appealing about this documentary was its exploration of the word “ecstasy”. Cousins turns his wandering into a quest by challenging himself to find 5 things that make him feel ecstatic. He finds hints of ecstasy in certain camera angles, in revolutions, in architecture that makes your eyes dazzle, in the brilliance of bodies. But most simply, there is ecstasy in movement.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 10.23.27 PM

Before this documentary, Cousins made serious films including “The Story of Film: An Odyssey”, a 15 episode series (available on Netflix!) that is an extended love letter/history lesson about cinema.

This is not a serious documentary, it’s pretty silly. But it’s insightful. It shows you that films can make you see the world differently. It challenges you create and explore things you don’t know about. It celebrates change. One of the final lines asks “If you could turn into something else, what could it be”?

Watch this if you can handle metaphors.

What is This Film Called Love? – Trailer from BerwickFilmFest on Vimeo.

Stay tuned,


A Netflix Hidden Jewel: Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart

Jack’s heart is replaced with a cuckoo clock at birth. Through his adventures he learns more about his emotions and how to control them.

This movie is originally in French. I don’t know if it has lost a lot of meaning through translation, but the quick and quirky banter throughout this movie is one of the major reasons why I strongly suggest you watch it if you are in need of a fairly fun and beautiful movie. If you are not into that sort of thing… Now is the time to switch articles.

The movie soundtrack is THE BEST. The movie is actually based upon an album by the French rock band Dionysus. (According to this Wikipedia article anyway…) This song gives you a taste of what they sound like:

The lyrics in this song specifically were unexpectedly adult in this scene: ripping clothes off with teeth? Not exactly something I would expect coming out of two kids’ mouths. He sings it quite calmly, but the song captures his young brain (not to mention his messed up heart) on love rather well I think. The little comments near the end that make no sense I found to be a very accurate picture of how I act around someone around whom my heart tends to beat way too fast.

The way the characters were jarred into a different world during each song was also a pleasant surprise for me. The music takes them into a different dimension in which regular physics don’t really apply. I understand that this probably happens in every animated movie: why be held back by gravity when you don’t have to be? Regardless, it’s awesome.

One of the greatest characters in the movie is the antagonist, Joe. Yes: he is tall, dark and handsome. His voice is THE BEST, and his theme song is my favorite. If you are looking for a good antagonist, look no further than Joe from Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart.


Top Five Reasons To Get Amazon Prime Video

And they are all Tatiana Maslany.

There’s a show, you might have heard some buzz about it, it’s called Orphan Black.





This show is amazing.

This show has the plot, the dialogue, the characters, the acting, the intrigue and just about anything else you could ask for in a TV show.

The only downfall is that it’s hard to get a hold of because it’s a BBC America show. If you have cable and that cable has BBC America in its package then you’ve probably already been watching Orphan Black (and if you haven’t, WHY DO YOU EVEN HAVE CABLE?) and loving it. But if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can start watching season one of this show tonight. And you should.

Now, I don’t want to give too much away, I don’t, and it’s going to be difficult. But I’ll let you know just enough: This is a show about family, really. And conspiracy. See, there’s this girl, Sarah, and she’s been leading a pretty hard and fast life. But she returns to make things right with her absolutely adorable daughter so they can be a family. That’s when she sees herself walk in front of a train and DIE. Or someone who looks identical to her. So, she does what any rational person would do when you see your doppleganger commit suicide – she takes her purse and assumes her identity.

This would probably be a pretty decent premise if it just stopped there. BUT IT DOESN’T. No. This show is never that basic.

This show is about clones, guys. AND THEY’RE ALL PLAYED BY THE SAME ACTRESS WHO IS PHENOMENAL and every character is so unique that you will literally forget that you’re
watching the same actress.

That’s the biggest and only spoiler I will give you.

There’s a great ensemble here as well and terrific writing but what stands out the most is Tatiana Maslany’s stellar performances. All of them.

Also, watch out for Felix who is, arguably, the snarkiest, most caring, most fabulous brother to ever be.

e282f81d5d545a3fd1c539737f37b032If you’re not convinced or you’re on the fence about this show, just watch the first episode. If you don’t like it (you will), I will, like, buy you a sandwich or something.

So, stop reading this and go find out if your mother, brother, best friend, roommate, sestra, whoever has Amazon Prime so you can start streaming this immediately. Season 3 started last night.

Welcome to the Clone Club.

Ashland Can Get Film Festive Too

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All photos from the ashland independent film festival facebook page.

Indie movie magic filled the air of downtown Ashland last weekend as filmmakers and cinephiles celebrated the 14th Annual Ashland Independent Film Festival. I scored myself a filmmaker pass and lived in a five-day popcorn-filled indie binge fest, which is worlds away from my usual streaming binges sur la macbook. The festival screens both features and shorts, narratives and documentaries,  films for families and films “for mature audiences.” I was not able to catch every movie on my wishlist, but I was blown away by everything I did see. Here are two of my faves:

SLOW WEST: Everything a Western should be. It’s got a romantic quest, the unforgiving wilderness, lawlessness, intense shoot outs, and Michael Fassbender being sexy as hell as the John Wayne figure. Watching the opening scene, I instantly knew I had stumbled upon treasure, maybe even a new favorite. Like I am actually going to buy this one on DVD and make all my friends watch it. The screenwriting is rich with witty humor and healthy self-deprecation. The 16-year old protagonist is a romantic with naive ideals and profound lines that the rest of the film makes total fun of. Every opportunity for humor is seized, but things can get real heavy real fast and the tension is enough to make you forget how hard you were laughing a few moments ago. As a whole, the film has a smart balance of tenderness and thrill. Be prepared to feel some feelings, but not in a lame way… in a rogue, wild-wild-west kind of way.

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Photos from cartellandmovie.com

Cartel Land: A documentary that parallels citizen vigilante groups on both sides of the Mexican-Arizona border fighting against drug cartels. This film premiered at Sundance this year and took home awards for best directing and best cinematography for US documentaries. We’re talking about real life drug cartels here, so there is real life violence and corruption. Watch if you want a chilling and twisted story where you can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys. Look for Cartel Land in theaters this July.

P.S. My super short film “As Apple Pie” played during the film festival as part of the Local’s Only screenings along with SOU professor Robert Arellano’s “Fill My Mirrors.” Watch them both right here:

Teen Beach Movie

For those of you who aren’t tuned into Disney Channel anymore, I’m here to fill you in on the only Disney Channel original movie from 2013, “Teen Beach Movie.” Why? Well, because it’s on Netflix, but also because “Teen Beach Movie 2” will be coming out this summer (2015) and you might want to be all caught up.


The short version? “Teen Beach Movie” is basically “West Side Story” meets “Beach Blanket Bingo,” “Grease,” and “Back to the Future,” but I’ll get into that more later…” The movie follows two lovestruck teens, Brady and Mack as they’re reaching the end of their summer together, and looking toward a future that seems a little bleak. Who would want to leave the beach, the surf, and their teenage love life for education? No one.

Desperate to capture the last bit of summer, and ride the best waves the beach has ever seen, our starlet Mack (McKenzie) goes out on some sketchy water and ends up eating it pretty hard. Brady bravely jumps on a jet ski and races out to save her, but suddenly the two find themselves surfacing on a calm, quiet beach. The pair discover that they have somehow ended up in the classic 1960’s film, “Wet Side Story,” and things just get kooky and musical from there.

Continue reading Teen Beach Movie

Things you should be watching: Episode 1

1. Generation Like: A PBS Frontline find + the Ian Somerhalder Foundation

2. Inside Out: Mark your calendars for June!

3. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Tina Fey makes Netflix gold.

4. Princess Jellyfish: A super awkward and nerdy animated series on Netflix.

5. THE VERY FIRST EPISODE OF GREY’S ANATOMY EVER: #FirstGreysEver because now we have Twitter.

6. Resistance: Fun facts about antibiotics.

7. Cinderella: Live action edition.

8. Rita: Quirky and Danish.