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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Let "Grabbers" Take Hold Of You Review

The sleepy Irish fishing town of Erin Island is so quiet and crime-free that local cop and barely functioning alcoholic Ciaran O’Shea (Richard Coyle) is able to easily sail through his job on a sea of charm and whiskey. When uptight Dublin cop Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) shows up as temporary help while the only other officer is on vacation, O’Shea’s monotonous existence is uncomfortably shaken up, both by his attraction to Nolan and his annoyance at her perfectionist tendencies. However, bigger problems are afoot (or rather, atentacle) on the island, thanks to the arrival of some giant, blood-sucking sea monsters.

Nov
30
2013
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WWII: HISTORY, At Long Last, Returns To History Review

Lately HISTORY seems more focused on filling its airtime with hearsay and conspiracy rather than with actual history, which makes its release of WWII 3-Film Collection on Blu-ray almost shocking due to its being so grounded in reality. There are no ancient aliens to be found here; instead, it is four discs of high-definition delving into the greatest conflict this world has ever known. Facts, figures and celebrity voice-overs abound, retelling stories of famous battles and moments from a variety of different perspectives--basically everything a history buff could want, and then some.

Nov
15
2013
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"Murder University" Sleeps Through First Period Review

Let’s face it: there are a lot of independent horror movies that are very, very bad. Any idiot with enough spare change to buy a camera and a vat of corn syrup and enough friends willing to shriek and scream onscreen can attempt to make a low-budget horror movie--hence why so many of them are, well, idiotic. However, some of these movies find a way to surmount their awfulness by being so profoundly stupid that while they do not successfully provide scares, they do provide laughs. They’re so bad at being horror movies that they end up being quite good comedies by accident. Now, when a horror movie sets out to be hilarious--well, that’s a horse of a far rarer and much more unnatural color. It’s the chartreuse horse of horror, if you’ll forgive my admittedly odd analogy.

Nov
14
2013
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Is There Still an Audience for "The New Three Stooges" Cartoon? Review

It’s hard to think of anything new to say about the comedy stylings of The Three Stooges. Their silly, slapstick antics have become part of our pop culture lexicon, to the point that even if you never actually sat down and watched any of their material, you still have some idea of what they’re all about. It’s essentially a lot of physical humor, goofy gags and borderline-violent behavior made more harmless by the accompaniment of outlandish sound effects and music. This kind of humor is often feels dated in modern times, making the 45th anniversary DVD collection of “The New Three Stooges” more of an artifact than a genuine piece of entertainment.

Nov
09
2013
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"Jug Face" Takes You Deep In The Backwoods Review

You know a film is disturbing when the fact that the main character voluntarily has sex with her brother is one of the less disturbing plot points. Such is the case of the indie-horror flick Jug Face, which chronicles life in a backwoods and backwards community that worships a strange pit. The pit is supposed to have legendary healing powers, but in order to stay on the pit’s good side, people must occasionally be sacrificed to it, with their throats slit so that their blood flows into the pit and satisfies the strange presence within it. How do they decide who gets given to the pit? Local man Dawai has a vision of the next victim’s face, which he then carves onto a ceremonial jug--hence the film’s title.

Nov
03
2013
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Don't Walk Past "House On Straw Hill" Without Stepping In Review

German actor Udo Kier has appeared in over two hundred films, yet he is more of a cult figure known to Euro-trash cinephiles than a household name. He made several early films through Andy Warhol’s studio, including Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula, before embarking on a long career that includes a variety of other softcore horror-dramas that feature the very attractive and very gay Kier seducing every naked woman in his path (such as 1970's Mark of the Devil), minor roles in some surprisingly mainstream hits, and almost everything Lars von Trier has ever done (including his upcoming, star-studded sex opus, Nymphomaniac).

Nov
03
2013
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"Only God Forgives", But He Should Have Done The Script Review

Director Nicolas Winding Refn and actor Ryan Gosling had a big hit on their hands with Drive, a super-stylish and hyper-violent movie with a killer soundtrack that burst into theaters in 2011. The story of a nameless stunt driver who doubled as a getaway driver for some unsavory characters, and his relationship with a waitress played by the adorable Carey Mulligan, appealed to an audience hungry for something fresh and new in a sea of sequels and remakes. Gosling’s understated performance, and his rare ability to make intense violence look natural and understated, combined with Refn’s unique visual flair, made for a nice twist on the action flick. It’s no wonder they teamed up again for Only God Forgives; what is a wonder is how much this film pales in comparison to their previous effort.

Nov
03
2013
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The Long-Awaited Adaptation of "Ender's Game" isn't Perfect, But it's Well Worth Watching Review

Despite its quality of storytelling and cinema-friendly action sequences, it has taken 28 years for Ender’s Game to make it to the big screen. Yet it arrives at the ideal moment, both because of its timely subject matter and because special effects have developed to such a degree that the book’s battle scenes come to spectacular life on the big screen in a way that die-hard Ender devotees could scarcely have imagined in the late Eighties. It was also good timing considering the cast of talented young actors they were able to recruit to embody characters that, for many readers, helped them first fall in love with science fiction as a genre. Yet the film still has weaknesses that will not surprise those who have read the novel, marveled at its complexity and wondered how a movie could possibly do it justice.

Nov
01
2013
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"Oka!" Plays Some Sounds Worth Listening To Review

The film Oka! takes its title from the Pygmy word for “Listen!” and really, there is no word that better describes director Lavinia Currier’s portrait of ethnomusicologist Louis Sarno. Here, he is named Larry Whitman, but the character and his exploits are based on Sarno’s memoir of twenty-five years spent studying the life and music of the Bayaka people of the Central African Republic.

During the film’s opening sequence, Whitman is cooped up in his New Jersey home, listening to the music of the Pygmies, which he claims to his ears is more lovely than Beethoven. Soon he learns that his liver is failing, and so with only a limited time left to finish his life’s task of recording every Pygmy instrument, he takes off once again to Africa. He sets out to achieve his final goal: to capture the sound of a horn called a molimo, which is thought to no longer even exist. It’s a musical bucket list, if you will, and Whitman is determined to finish it, despite his doctor’s warning that his health won’t be able to survive the tough African conditions.

Oct
30
2013
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There's Fun To Be Had If You Look Along The "Rim" Review

Giant robots versus giant monsters: those five words are enough to send shivers down the spine of this blockbuster junkie. Add in the massive talents of geek-friendly auteur Guillermo Del Toro, and you have a seemingly delicious recipe for a summer movie.

That movie is Pacific Rim, and it is indeed a pretty tasty morsel, in an empty-calories, all-sugar-and-caffeine kind of way. It begins with a gruff voiceover by Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh Becket, quickly and effectively summing up the central conceit of the movie: one day, giant monsters called kaiju emerged from a breach deep in the Pacific Ocean and began marauding the coastal areas. Despite there being some seemingly logical ways to solve this problem (dropping massive bombs from fighter planes springs to mind), the world’s governments decide that the best way to fight these monsters is “to create monsters.” These monsters, called jaegers (German for hunter), are giant robots so powerful that they must be controlled by not one, but two human pilots, mentally connected and sharing thoughts through something called “the drift.” It is all incredibly farfetched and bizarre, but this is science fiction, not science, so its best to just roll with the punches (and plot holes).

Oct
29
2013
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"Blue Is The Warmest Color" Has A Movie Behind Its Graphic Sex Review

Blue is the Warmest Color won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; in a surprise twist, the award was bestowed not just upon the film’s director, Abdellatif Kechiche, but upon its two lead actresses as well, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. If one dares to take in the highly emotional, sexually explicit, three-hour French drama about one girl coming of age and falling in love, one will be left in no doubt as to why this is the case. Despite the film seeming to embody every art-house cliche imaginable upon first glance, it ends up being a surprisingly lovely movie featuring two of the most compelling performances by women not just this year, but any year.

Oct
28
2013
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"Captain Phillips" A Worthy Entry In The Cinema Of Anxiety Review

It feels as though as long as there have been movies, there has also been the debate about which is the more important category for a movie to fall into: art or entertainment? One can argue that the perfect film should be an equal mix of both. However, it seems as though there is a third category forcing its way pop culture discussion: anxiety. The cinema of anxiety has grown in increasing popularity in the past decade, especially with the awarding of Best Picture to the bomb-and-heart-stopping thrills of 2009's The Hurt Locker (not to mention the small-screen exploits of Walter White on Breaking Bad). The escapism provided by an outing to the theater has been marginalized by the kind of moviemaking that can barely be enjoyed as entertainment, because one cannot relax enough while watching it to do so. That is not to say that all movies should be light, fluffy and fantastical, or that harsh realism does not have its place in the cinema. On the contrary, there are many stories that need to be told in that matter in order to be treated with proper respect. Yet it seems as though anxiety is overpowering the entertainment factor as of late, when in fact, it should ideally be accentuating it.

Oct
11
2013
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"Unsolved", And Unconvincing Review

Unsolved is a feature-length horror film produced by students in Oklahoma City University’s Moving Image Arts Program. Touting itself as one of the only student-produced feature-length films in the country, one has to respect the ambition of the cast and crew involved in the production, as well as that of program director Fritz Kiersch, best known for directing the original Children of the Corn (1984). As someone who attended NYU’s film program and was frustrated by every single student’s unflappable view that they were a genius auteur, and the lack of cooperative collaboration that resulted, I admire that the students in the OCU program were able to all unite and take on various roles, big and small, to finish the film, submit it to festivals and release it on DVD. However, what makes Unsolved admirable doesn’t necessarily make it a good movie.  

Oct
11
2013
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Where Can You Find Decent Roles For Women? Way Out "East" Review

Brit Marling is a unique character in modern cinema. She is ethereally beautiful, yet far more than just a pretty face; she has not only starred in unusual independent films such as Another Earth and Sound of My Voice (both released in 2011), but also co-written those films’ screenplays. In a world where substantial and complex roles for women on the big screen can be thin on the ground, and where a pretty young woman can be repeatedly typecast as the girlfriend or the victim (or both simultaneously), Marling writes the roles she would like to play, ensuring that she gets a chance to let her talents shine. The latest of these roles is that of undercover intelligence agent Sarah Moss in The East.

Oct
11
2013
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"Hidden In The Woods" May Yet Replace Ipecac On Our Shelves Review

There is absolutely nothing pleasant about watching Hidden in the Woods, a Chilean torture-porn extravaganza just released on DVD by distributor Artsploitation films. Then again, I am pretty sure that director Patricio Valladares did not intend for this film to be a pleasant experience, so in that regard, he most definitely succeeded in fulfilling his vision and could possibly be applauded for said success. However, it is hard to muster anything but revulsion, let alone applause, for Hidden in the Woods, which is 98 minutes of everything horrific the mind could possibly comprehend, thrust upon two abused girls in a way that most definitely qualifies it as torture porn. It claims to be based on a “bizarre true story,” but that doesn’t make it any less exploitative.

Oct
06
2013
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Another Season Of "Mentalist" Rolls Off The CBS Assembly Line Review

People tend to mock the CBS brand of drama for its predictability: paint-by-numbers procedurals with pretty faces that appeal to the AARP crowd and very few others. Yet if one actually takes the time to watch an episode of one of the shows in the CBS stable, one may be pleasantly surprised to realize that while these shows are not groundbreaking, they are not necessarily bad either. They epitomize the flavor of vanilla in that they’re not terribly exciting, but they can also be sweet and delicious if one is in the mood for something simple.

Oct
06
2013
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"The Walking Dead" Gets New, Badass Life in its Third Season Review

The Walking Dead changes showrunners like European soccer teams change coaches: so quickly that its hard to keep track of who is in charge at any given time. As a result, the hit AMC drama, based off of Robert Kirkman’s long-running comic book series, has had its share of ups, downs and unbelievably flat plateaus (such as the majority of season two) during its first three years on the air, as the various head honchos imposed their own styles of storytelling on the program. Season three, under the leadership of Glen Mazzara (who has announced his departure for season four), was the show’s strongest yet, as it found an entertaining balance between season one’s grim and gruesome mayhem and season two’s (often dull) character-driven drama, while also introducing new human characters that posed just as much of a threat to the show’s core group of survivors as the undead. The result will appeal to not just horror fans, but anyone who can appreciate quality drama on television. 

Sep
05
2013
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The Anti-Bullying Message of "Standing Up" is Worth Spreading Around Review

Bullying is a serious issue. Kids who bully others need to be taught that it is never okay to do so, and kids who are bullied need to know that they are not alone. In a world where kids pay more attention to the moving pictures and graphics on the various screens that fill their lives, it can be hard to get through to them. Kids are more likely to listen to such a lecture if it is disguised as entertainment, especially as a film.

Standing Up is an adaptation of Brock Cole’s young adult novel The Goats. The film is written and directed by D.J. Caruso, best known for the teen-skewing Disturbia and I Am Number Four. It is solidly mediocre in story and production values, yet the message it carries is worth spreading.

Sep
04
2013
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All "Evidence" Points To Boredom Review

Marathoning through all eight episodes of Broadchurch over the past week has given me a taste for murder. Don’t worry, I won’t be picking up a weapon and seeking out victims anytime soon...I think. However, my thorough enjoyment of that series has given me a strange desire to get absorbed in another murder mystery. Something with a interesting setting, layered characters, and enough twists and turns to keep one engaged without getting lost on the path to the true killer.

Sep
04
2013
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Yo No Quiero "Chihuahua Too!" 2 Review

“We have a real ghost dog.”

That’s not a line that you expect to hear ever, let alone more than once. Yet it summarizes the entire plot of the low-fi family flick Chihuahua Too! The film begins as the cheerfully white-bread Fastener family has just inherited an old family vacation home, last occupied in the early 1900s before the then-owners died tragically on the Titanic. These long-gone Fasteners had made their living training dogs to perform on stage and screen, with their most successful protege being their own chihuahua, Sophie, who starred in many silly silent films with titles like Cleopawtra and Noses and the Ten Commandments. The modern-day Fasteners--mom, dad, kids Jan and Jarred, and goofy golden retriever Homer--are fascinated by this new portion of their family history. Little do they know that what they thought was history is in fact also eerily present.

Sep
02
2013
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