Lee Jutton

Staff Writer

Lee attended NYU for Film & TV Production, but she now works mostly in PR. Her primary obsessions in life are Doctor Who, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Arsenal F.C. When not writing about things she's watched, she's running or kickboxing in preparation for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. 

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"Tremors 5" Delivers on Action and Gore but Misses on Comedy Review

No film franchise should ever make it to its fifth installment. A prime example: Disney is currently dead-set on making a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie when we all know that stretching Johnny Depp’s eyeliner-smudged antics out into an entire trilogy was already teetering on the edge of way too much. I can understand the desire to turn one film into a trilogy, a la Peter Jackson. Trilogies tend to form a natural story arc, from (satisfying) beginning to (usually kind of boring) middle to (hopefully satisfying) end. However, once you venture beyond three, you are venturing into worlds best left unexplored. Yet I suppose one cannot expect storytelling restraint for the sake of avoiding creative burnout when it comes to the Tremors franchise. The original 1990 film starring Kevin Bacon, Reba McIntyre and Michael Gross is fondly remembered by many for its bizarre genre mash-up of comedy with good old-fashioned creature feature horror. The straight-to-video sequels now number four, and while Tremors 5: Bloodlines has its moments of cheeky fun, it mostly misses the already very low bar it has set for itself.

Jan
16
2016
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"The Enchiridion" Serves as an Excellent Guide to the World of "Adventure Time" Review

When you were twelve years old, did you long to escape the mundane reality of school, homework and family obligations to explore a fantastical world, performing heroic acts alongside a magical, talking dog? Sounds like a lot more fun than living in the real world, right? Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time allows you to belatedly fulfill those dreams one 11-minute episode at a time as you join human boy Finn (voiced by Jeremy Shada) and his dog sidekick, Jake (voiced by John “Bender from Futurama” DiMaggio) as they get into various shenanigans throughout the Land of Ooo, a charmingly bizarre place populated with characters that include rapping bears, ghost flies, adorable dimple plants, sentient video game consoles and--my personal favorite--Root Beer Guy, a walking root beer float who works as a lousy telemarketer by day and an aspiring mystery novelist by night, and is married to Cherry Cream Soda Girl.

Jan
16
2016
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Video Games and Kung Fu Strike Back with "The Avenging Fist" Review

People seem to be infatuated with the idea that we’re using only ten percent of our brains, and that if we unlock the other ninety percent, we will gain access to superhuman levels of power and intelligence. It feels a bit like an excuse for humanity’s various weaknesses--of course I’m not living up to my full potential, I can only use a small portion of my brain! This urban legend is so frequently used as fodder for entertainment that it has its own Wikipedia page explaining why it is nonsense. However, that hasn’t stopped films like Limitless (now a television program and the most recent addition to CBS’ crowded stable of procedurals) and Lucy from perpetuating this myth.

Jan
16
2016
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"Spy" Whips Up a Funny but Action-Packed "007" Parody Review

I’ve always harbored a dream of being the female James Bond. Basically, I’d kick the same amount of ass, but in designer gowns rather than suits, and have a range of attractive, international men of mystery to choose from. At this point, I’d just settle for being the female director of a James Bond film, but my attachment to the franchise and its fancy cars, futuristic gadgets, stylish clothes and often nonsensical plot twists is still very strong. One of the great things about the James Bond films is their willingness to look back on their own storied, yet uneven, history and laugh a little bit; the best Bond films, even when they’re gritty and dark like Casino Royale and Skyfall, still manage to pack in enough tongue-in-cheek moments to prove that they don’t take themselves too seriously. So, the notion of Melissa McCarthy, one of the funniest women in Hollywood, stepping in to become a female superspy in the Bond mold--therefore breaking the mold into a million little pieces--was definitely one I could support.

Jan
16
2016
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The Truth Probably Lies Somewhere Between "Selma" and "JFK & LBJ" Review

Selma, director Ava DuVernay’s dramatic depiction of the events surrounding to the famous civil rights march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital of Montgomery to protest restrictions preventing black people from exercising their right to vote, was released last winter to much critical acclaim. And rightfully so: the film is a beautiful, moving depiction of the struggle to obtain basic rights that never should have been denied in the first place. Yet there were some who took issue with Selma's depiction of President Lyndon B. Johnson (portrayed by Tom Wilkinson) and his role in the events leading up to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. DuVernay’s film showed Johnson as a reluctant participant in the movement, someone who understood why Dr. King was so passionate about these issues, but would have preferred to focus on the War on Poverty. LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove argued that LBJ was much more supportive of the movement than the film showed, adding, "When racial tension is so high, it does no good to suggest that the president of the U.S. himself stood in the way of progress a half-century ago. It flies in the face of history.”

JFK & LBJ: A Time for Greatness is a documentary from PBS that seems specifically designed to support Updegrove’s point of view.

Oct
12
2015
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"The Chambermaid" Sees Everything Review

An adaptation of a novel by Markus Orths, writer-director Ingo Haeb’s The Chambermaid is the most delicate and introspective movie about S&M that you will probably ever see. The German-language drama follows the titular chambermaid, Lynn (Vicky Krieps), as she goes about her very meticulously scheduled life. Lynn voluntarily spent time in an asylum; she says that she checked herself in, but won’t give up the details as to why. Now back out in the world, much of her life is spent obsessively cleaning rooms at the Hotel Eden--even the ones without guests--making her by far the hardest working maid in the business. Every once and awhile, she has bored, businesslike sex with her manager, seemingly only in order to make some feeble attempt at human interaction; other than that, she rarely makes eye contact or speaks a word with anyone other than her psychiatrist or her mother.

Oct
09
2015
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There Are Worse Things Than Getting Stuck In "Downer's Grove" Review

In the run-down, dead-end town of Downers Grove, Illinois, there are murmurs of a curse that violently takes the life of one high school senior each year just before graduation. Chrissie Swanson (Bella Heathcote) is far too level-headed to believe in such nonsense, despite gruesome evidence to the contrary; she herself saw the previous year’s victim fall to his death from a water tower. However, Chrissie chalks it all up to drunk kids making bad life choices. One night at a party, Chrissie is very nearly raped by Chuck, the star quarterback of the local college football Team (Kevin Zegers); she only escapes by jabbing him in the eye. Now partially blinded and unable to play football, Chuck’s only ticket out of Downers Grove has seemingly been burnt to ashes--and he is determined to get revenge on the girl who he blames for his lack of future. Soon, freaky threats and disturbing events start to pile up around Chrissie, to the point that even she begins to wonder if the curse is real--and if she is the next victim.

Oct
09
2015
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Things In A Small Town Are, Once Again, Not What They Seem In "A Casual Vacancy" Review

Filmmakers and audiences alike have long been fascinated with peeling back the beautiful, sundrenched layers of idyllic communities to reveal ugliness hidden underneath. David Lynch has made this obsession a centerpiece of his career; in the opening sequence of his 1986 classic Blue Velvet, he presents the audience with bright blue skies and pristine green fields, before panning the camera down to reveal an severed ear rotting away in the lushness of the grass--one of the most iconic images summarizing this concept. But why are we so unwilling to accept that a pretty suburban neighborhood or a tiny country village might actually be perfect? Must there always be some kind of skeleton in the closet, some horrible sacrifice that was made or secret that was kept in order to achieve this nearly utopian facade? Apparently, yes. Clearly, everyone else out there is almost as cynical as I am.

Oct
07
2015
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To Be So Lucky To Be Free From "5 To 7" Review

Imagine if Jean-Luc Godard made a film starring Woody Allen circa Annie Hall...only the nostalgic and neurotic result was far more grating than any of the iconic romances created by either of those auteurs. Such is 5 to 7, a romantic comedy-drama starring Anton Yelchin as Brian Bloom, an ambitious young writer who falls for Arielle, played by Skyfall Bond Girl Berenice Marlohe, after they meet cute while smoking outside the hotel where Arielle is having lunch.

Oct
07
2015
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There's a Little Something For Everyone "Where Hope Grows" Review

Calvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha) was a big baseball talent in his small Kentucky town growing up, but when he got his big break playing for the Detroit Tigers, he blew it. Now he floats around his hometown like a bourbon-soaked ghost, spending too much time drinking with his old buddies and not enough time being a father to his teenage daughter, who has gotten herself mixed up with an older bad boy. However, when Calvin meets a cheerful and inspirational young man with Down Syndrome called Produce (David DeSanctis), he is inspired to put down the bottle and get his life back on track. However, because this film is more than twenty minutes long, one knows it won’t be easy.

Sep
22
2015
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"Time Lapse": Sometimes Good Time Travel Twists Happen to Bad Characters Review

What if you had a camera that took pictures that showed what would happen in that exact spot 24 hours in the future? Except, you couldn’t move the camera, so it only took pictures of the same living room occupied by a hipster painter-slash-apartment building manager, his wannabe writer girlfriend and his loser best friend, who does absolutely nothing but gamble on dog racing? Such is the premise of Time Lapse, a low-budget sci-fi thriller that has plenty of potential--not to mention some legitimately chilling moments--but doesn't quite live up to its promise. 

Sep
16
2015
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They Probably Won't Be "The Last Survivors" Review

Imagine a world where it hasn’t rained in a decade. The once lush, green lands of the Oregon valley now resemble a wasteland, empty and parched. Formerly the site of an orphanage, all that is left are some scattered ruins of farms that remain the last refuges of a few desperate, dying people. Among them are seventeen-year-old Kendal (Haley Lu Richardson) and her boyfriend, Dean (Booboo Stewart), who is so weak from kidney failure that he can barely get out of bed, let alone leave the valley. Fortunately, Kendal knows where an old Cessna is hidden, and spends her days hunting for the missing part she needs to get it up and running when she’s not busy keeping an eye out for a young child, Alby (Max Charles), or giving Dean her share of the last droplets of water that remain in their nearly dried-up well. However, a greedy and heartless water baron, Carson (Napoleon Dynamite’s Uncle Rico, Jon Gries), is making the rounds of the farms and killing any remaining people who might be drinking his water; the longer Kendal, Dean and Alby remain in the valley, the more likely they are to die.

Sep
09
2015
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"Child 44" Is The Cure For Feeling Good Review

What’s more bleak than Stalin’s Soviet Union? How about a series of child murders in Stalin’s Soviet Union? Such is the premise of Child 44, an excessively long, incredibly dour but well-acted thriller starring Mad Max himself, Tom Hardy, alongside Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman and a host of other talented European (though, not Russian) thespians. Based on the award-winning novel by Tom Rob Smith, it follows Hardy’s Ministry of State Security (MGB) investigator Leo Demidov as he attempts to solve that aforementioned series of murders, despite the Soviet Union’s refusal to acknowledge the the acts are murder at all. Murder is a disease of the West, we are told, and “cannot happen in paradise.”

Sep
06
2015
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Viola Davis Could "Get Away With Murder" Review

This often gets me some judgmental glances from the more literary-minded people I know, who prefer their reading to be more like art and less like entertainment, but I am a fan of the novels of Dan Brown. His books might not have the most elegant of prose, but they are easy to read and packed with plot twists and turns that fly by fast enough to give you whiplash. Nearly every chapter ends in a cliffhanger epic enough to make you unable to put the book down until you’ve read another chapter, and then another, until the next thing you know you’ve finished a novel packed with enough empty calories to make you feel as though you just binged on an entire bag of Cheetos.

Sep
06
2015
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"The Road Within" Leads Past Some Dark Places Review

Road trip movies seem to always involve eccentric, unusual characters that would probably drive you crazy if you actually had to spend hours confined inside a tiny vehicle with them; however, in the context of a 90-minute film, these people often come across less annoying and more like charming, manic pixie dream boys and girls. The Road Within, a remake of the 2010 German film Vincent Wants to Sea, takes those tropes a few steps further; its vehicle is filled with dysfunctional characters who aren’t just quirky, but plagued with mental and neurological disorders. (You know, people dealing with actual problems, as opposed to just poetic musings.) Yet despite casting three talented young actors who throw themselves heart and soul into their characters and deliver performances so raw that they’re practically bloody, writer-director Gren Wells’ dark comedy-drama rarely ever veers out of already well-tread territory.

Aug
25
2015
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A Lot Was Left Behind In "Vietnam" Review

A 2015 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature, Last Days in Vietnam chronicles the turbulent final moments of the Vietnam War as the North Vietnamese Army rolled towards Saigon in spring of 1975. At that time, the United States had essentially withdrawn from the country, leaving behind only a few diplomats and the bare minimum of a military presence. These remaining Americans knew that any South Vietnamese who were known to have worked with them--including their tailors, launderers and cooks--were in grave danger from the impending invasion. In addition, many of them had wives, mistresses and children who were Vietnamese; they did not want to leave their families behind in any potential evacuation. Torn between their duties as soldiers and doing what was right, a small group decided to do whatever possible to get as many South Vietnamese out of the country before it was too late.

Aug
25
2015
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The Greatest Trick this "Magician" Pulls is Making You Want to Watch Some Orson Welles Classic Review

The ironic thing about documentaries about films or filmmakers is that the main thing you end up taking away is how much you want to go watch these other films. You’ll see clips of something that you remember fondly and want to watch it again, or you’ll see clips from something intriguing that you haven’t seen before and immediately want to seek out a copy. Either way, it’s very easy to get tempted to turn off the film you’re watching to go watch the films that it is about instead. Such is the case with Magician: The Astonishing Life & Work of Orson Welles.

Aug
19
2015
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This "Honeymoon" Will Haunt You For Days Review

Director Leigh Janiak makes her feature debut with Honeymoon, an intriguing horror film that introduces us to lead characters Bea (Games of Thrones’ Rose Leslie) and Paul (Penny Dreadful’s Harry Treadaway), via their syrupy-sweet wedding video, during which they make gooey eyes at each other while talking about their disastrous first date at an Indian restaurant and how Paul proposed in a tent made of sheets in their Brooklyn apartment. For their honeymoon, Bea and Paul are heading up to Bea’s old family cabin in Canada, a remote hideaway in the woods where they can fish, swim, eat s’mores and make love to their hearts’ content. During these opening scenes, Honeymoon feels surprisingly like a romantic comedy, and an annoyingly cheesy one at that. Bea and Paul are just too adorable to be true, and their cloying just-married banter makes you long for something bad to happen to them as soon as possible--a bitter palate cleanser to wash the sugary taste out of your mouth before you fall victim to cavities. 

Aug
19
2015
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"What We Do in the Shadows" Is Funnier Than Not Review

When did we decide that vampires were our Valentines? One quick search on the trusty Internet provides robust evidence of the genre’s eroticism, all the way back to its origins in the 18th century. Numerous essays have been written to delve into the sexuality of these creatures of the night and what it symbolizes, running the gamut from citation-heavy scholarly texts on JStor to posts throughout the pop culture blogosphere. However, the most recent modern interpretations of the vampire legend seem to belong less to the dark world of erotic horror and more to the warmly glowing realm of romance. All of the brutal violence and demonic power one has traditionally associated with Nosferatu, Dracula and their brethren has taken a backseat to poetic dialogue and literally spending eternity with one’s true love--who, of course, has perfect abs. Overall, today’s vampires are more likely to incite sighs of longing than screams of terror.

Aug
03
2015
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You Won't Be Shocked By What's "At The Devil's Door" Review

A supernatural horror flick involving a possibly haunted house and some good old-fashioned demonic forces, At the Devil’s Door stars Catalina Sandino Moreno (best known for her Oscar-nominated role as a drug mule in Maria Full of Grace) as Leigh, a real estate agent who discovers that the house she is trying to sell has a questionable past. She encounters a strange girl lurking inside the house who she assumes is the owners’ runaway daughter; in fact, it is Hannah (Ashley Rickards of MTV’s Awkward), a girl who committed suicide way back in 1987.

Jul
07
2015
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