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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"Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You", But This Film Won't Be Review

We come once again to that familiar genre of filmmaking that focuses on a spectrum of society unfamiliar to the average moviegoer: the urban creative elitists. You know these people, even if you have never met them in real life. They are wealthy families that have made their fortunes through the arts or similar means, and exist in an isolated world where problems like unemployment and the economy are irrelevant. Naturally, they are dysfunctional because they are “creative,” and produce precocious, angst-ridden children who turn all of the privilege they have been bestowed with into reasons to rebel. These children often reject school because let’s face it, they are so wealthy that they don’t need traditional education. Instead, they devote all of their energy to the art of trying to be artistic, or when that fails, the art of whining. Their natural habitats are usually confined to New York or Los Angeles, or the sprawling vacation homes on the rural outskirts of these cities. They can also be found populating many of the works of Noah Baumbach, Wes Anderson and Lena Dunham, among others.

Mar
25
2013
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"Regular Show" Is Anything But Review

For a show that describes itself as “regular,” this program can hardly be considered normal. Regular Show is a well-received Cartoon Network series that began its fourth season in October and chronicles the adventures of two twentysomething slacker friends who work in a park. However, these friends happen to be a Blue Jay named Mordecai and a raccoon named Rigby, and their boss happens to be a living gumball machine named Benson. Other characters that populate their world include a ghost with a hand sticking out of its head, a robin who works as a diner waitress, and a green-skinned thug called Muscle Man. This is a surreal world where humans appear to be minorities and nearly anything goes.

Mar
19
2013
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Why Wouldn't You Want to Make an "Unexpected Journey" Back to J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth? Review

The works of J.R.R. Tolkien, particularly Peter Jackson’s adaptations of said works, have had a big influence on my life. It was my first time watching The Fellowship of the Ring at the age of fourteen that made me decide that I wanted to devote my life to film. The world created by Tolkien and brought to impeccably detailed life by Jackson and his crew enveloped my mind in the way that only the best stories can, and made me want to create my own worlds on the page as well as the screen. For me, the most beautiful aspect of filmmaking is the escapism that it can inspire; in my darkest moments, escaping to Middle-earth in my mind for three-plus hours at a time has been greatly comforting. The solid themes of good triumphing over evil, and heroes choosing to do what is right over what is easy, help one to emerge from whatever state of torpor or sadness one might be in and take life into one’s own hands.

Mar
18
2013
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"Asylum Tapes" Are Out Of Focus Review

Have you tired of found-footage style horror films in the tradition of The Blair Witch Project yet? The film industry doesn’t seem to think you have, what with the sea of sequels of Paranormal Activity and The Last Exorcism that are constantly drowning the multiplex. The latest installment in this trendy subgenre, The Asylum Tapes (alternate title: Greystone Park) is actually not a sequel, but an original film directed by and starring Sean “son of Oliver” Stone. One doesn’t need to feel guilty about citing Sean’s famous dad so immediately, as Sean isn’t hiding the familial connection himself--the elder Stone appears as himself in the movie, and Sean has appeared onscreen in a whopping thirteen of his dad’s films.

Mar
12
2013
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Like Soccer? Try "Playing For Keeps", Or Better Yet, Watch Soccer Review

In the pantheon of Great American Sports Movies, very few focus on soccer. Then again, very few Americans focus on soccer in general. Millions of kids might be in the youth soccer system, yet by adulthood they have seemingly forgotten their love of the beautiful game. Whereas the sport is the most beloved in the world, and a way of life overseas, it is more of a cult fanaticism in the States. Major League Soccer, the top-flight American soccer league, is so overshadowed by other sports in this country that very few people probably even noticed when the new season kicked off this past weekend.

Playing for Keeps seems to be trying to fill the gap in the American filmgoer’s consciousness that soccer has the potential to occupy. As a passionate fan of the sport, I admire the film’s frequent mentions of the European Champions League and teams like Celtic and Liverpool. Even better is the film’s focus on often-forgotten Major League Soccer; I had never seen so much DC United paraphernalia anywhere that wasn’t a sporting goods store before. It is nice to see a version of the United States where soccer seems to matter.

Mar
05
2013
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"How To Survive A Plague", And The World That Refuses To Care About It Review

There is a key moment towards the end of How to Survive a Plague that takes place just prior to the 1992 presidential election, in which a group of grieving protesters march to the White House to pour the ashes of their dearly departed loved ones on the lawn in order to personally show President Bush how his neglect of the AIDS crisis had wrought havoc on their lives. The image of bits of dust and bone that were once living, breathing, loving people swirling in the air and enveloping the White House in a maelstrom of anger and sadness is unbelievably powerful. So much heart-wrenching drama is elicited by this and many other moments in How To Survive a Plague that it is hard to believe that it is a documentary and not a work of fiction. Yet every moment has been captured from reality, which simultaneously emphasizes both the tragedy and the heroism of the events onscreen.

Mar
05
2013
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Even the Lowest Bar of Expectation Was Too Much for "Night of the Tentacles" to Grasp Review

I recently reviewed a film titled Bath Salt Zombies, an incredibly low budget (and low quality) horror-comedy from multitasking cult filmmaker Dustin Wayde Mills. Despite the film’s various faults (and trust me, there were many), my overall impression was rather positive; the cast and crew’s lack of filmmaking prowess was somewhat canceled out by the impression that they clearly had a great deal of giddy enthusiasm for what they were doing.

However, Night of the Tentacles, which I hoped would entertain me in the same ridiculous way, did not measure up to the incredibly low bar set by Bath Salt Zombies, which is saying a lot. The films share much of the same cast, including goofy star Brandon Salkil as Dave, a lonely artist who spends his days jerking off to his pregnant neighbor and his nights creating “fantasy erotica” for other people to jerk off to. It seems as though there are more scenes involving masturbation than monsters in Night of the Tentacles, which is one reason why it ends up being surprisingly boring.

Feb
27
2013
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"Bath Salt Zombies" Was Clearly Fun to Make and It's Also Enjoyable to Watch Review

It might sound moderately ridiculous to say that there are things to admire about a film titled Bath Salt Zombies, but believe it or not, there are merits to the latest film from prolific comedy-horror jack of all trades Dustin Wayde Mills. Mills is a writer-director-producer-actor-FX artist-composer who has previously cranked out gems with titles like Puppet Monster Massacre and Zombie A-Hole. Knowing that, you can certainly guess what’s coming when you pop Bath Salt Zombies into your DVD player.

The film’s vibe is that of a micro-budget feature written, planned and shot in approximately a week by a group of friends, none of whom are terribly good at what they do but are having a hell of a lot of fun doing it. In it, a group of punk-rock junkies in New York City discover that a particularly potent strand of bath salts, smoked in cigarette form, turn them into violent, flesh-eating monsters.

Feb
21
2013
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Football Doc "Undefeated" Rivals Any Inspirational Sports Flick Review

You’ll feel like you have seen Undefeated before, even if you haven’t. Newly released on Blu-ray, the 2011 Academy Award-winner for Best Documentary Feature follows a downtrodden Memphis high school football team, the Manassas Lions, in a seemingly impossible quest to turn years of devastating losses into a surprisingly winning season. Their struggle to do so requires a lot of hard work both on the field and off, instigated by the words and actions of inspiring volunteer coach Bill Courtney.

Filmmakers Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin utilize music, title cards and visuals to perfectly accentuate the natural arc of the story and bring out the most moving moments. It helps that Courtney is a wonderful protagonist who truly cares about the students on his team; watching him coach these kids both at football and at life will bring a smile to your face and possibly even a tear to your eye.

Feb
20
2013
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"Game Of Thrones" Plays Hard In Its Second Season Review

Season Two of Game of Thrones found its expansive cast of characters spread across the equally expansive lands of Westeros after the death of series centerpiece and Hand of the King Ned Stark, played by Sean Bean. As soon as Ned’s head hit the ground, the main figure of nobility and justice in Westeros was gone. In his place, chaos reigns--fascinating, fascinating chaos.

So, where to begin? Well, exiled teen queen Daenerys Targaryen has lost her husband and her unborn child, but gained three dragons--the first to been seen living in the world in years. Ned Stark’s children are scattered from the Wall in the far North down to King’s Landing, leaving Bran Stark to rule as the Stark in Winterfell despite his youth, his paralysis and his frequent dreams that he is a wolf. Stark ward Theon Greyjoy returns home to the Iron Islands to be given a less-than-enthusiastic welcome by his father and sister, and to question where his familial loyalties truly lie. Tyrion Lannister, portrayed by the incomparably witty Peter Dinklage, arrives in King’s Landing to serve as Hand of the King to his violent and spoiled nephew Joffrey, much to the dismay of Queen Regent Cersei, who drowns her sorrows in endless glasses of wine and the hope that her twin brother and lover, Jaime, will eventually be returned to her. Stannis and Renly Baratheon both lay claim to their deceased brother Robert’s throne, with Stannis being aided by the mysterious red priestess Melisandre, played by series newcomer Carice van Houten with maximum mystery and sensuality.

Feb
18
2013
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Nobody Gets Away Unscathed in "Nobody Walks" Review

Nobody Walks contains an ensemble of characters that very few audience members will be familiar with unless they come from the film’s particular privileged and artistic sphere of existence. The impossibly sexy and talented Martine, played by the actually sexy and talented Olivia Thirlby, is a photographer and filmmaker from Brooklyn who has created an experimental black-and-white film about insects to play on a loop during her first solo gallery show. Martine flies out west to seek help from Peter, a Hollywood sound designer, in creating the soundtrack. Peter is played by John Krasinski and husband to Julie, a therapist played by Rosemarie Dewitt. Their family life, which includes two kids and Julie’s rock star ex-husband Leroy (Dylan McDermott), seems nearly perfect. However, Martine’s arrival at their gorgeous, sunny mansion shakes things up quite a bit, as she promptly seduces everyone around her, including Peter.

Feb
11
2013
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Danny Glover Can't Stop "Bouquet" From Wilting Review

The Bouquet tells the story of two vastly different sisters: Terri is a driven New York businesswoman, and Mandy is an idealistic co-op worker. Both resent each other for said vast differences, and rarely ever return to home to visit their florist parents, Bonnie and Cecil. However, Terri and Mandy are forced together again when they are brought home by Cecil’s sudden death, and decide to attempt to reconcile their differences in order to save Bonnie’s struggling business.

Executive Producer Danny Glover plays a reverend and family friend, and his scenes are the bright spots in the film--apart from all of the gorgeous flowers, of course. The rest of the ninety-minute running time is filled with familial squabbles that mostly concern Terri’s career. The character of Terri, as played by Kristy Swanson, is most definitely flawed, but from the way the other characters harp on her decision to leave her rural home for a life in the city, you’d think she had committed the highest form of treason.

Feb
07
2013
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Fun "Slugterra" Oozes with Pokemon Similarities Review

Slugterra: Return of the Shane Gang is the first DVD collection of episodes of the Disney XD animated series Slugterra. What is Slugterra, you might ask? Well, it’s a place, a subterranean realm full where humans and other creatures compete in duels by “slugslinging.” This involves blasting tiny creatures called slugs out of special guns; when the slugs get to a speed of 100 miles an hour, they transform into magical beings that bear a remarkable (and likely not coincidental) resemblance to Pokemon. The way the creatures look, fight and are collected by humans is so Poke-like that its no surprise that there are already Slugterra toys and games.

Feb
07
2013
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Denzel Makes Despicable Look Good in "Flight" Review

Denzel Washington is such an effortlessly charismatic actor that he can make even the most despicable characters watchable. Whip Whitaker, the dysfunctional pilot protagonist of Flight, isn’t necessarily despicable, but he comes damn near close during several moments throughout the film. He is the very definition of an antihero, a complicated and colorful man who deserves to be honored for some of his actions but punished for many, many others. Washington was bestowed with his sixth Oscar nomination for portraying Whip, and it was most definitely deserved, despite any other weaknesses that the film might possess.

The audience first sees Whip waking up from a wild drunken night with the sultry flight attendant Trina to be berated by his ex-wife via phone. It is only two hours before he is due to fly about 100 people from Orlando to Atlanta, and so to prepare himself for the task ahead, the still-drunk Whip does a line of cocaine and confidently strolls to work like a rock star. He is clearly a mess, and a mess that holds the lives of everyone on every plane he flies in his booze-soaked hands. Whip can’t even get through an hour-long flight without pouring tiny bottles of vodka into his orange juice at fifty thousand feet, yet he manages to steer the plane through a moment of severe turbulence as cool as can be. However, his effort is for naught when part of the plane snaps and sends it into a dive in the final moments of the flight.

Feb
04
2013
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Marie Antoinette Gets a Rare, Candid Cinematic Send-Off in "Farewell, My Queen" Review

First things first: Farewell, My Queen is a far different film than the other recent depiction of that tragic ruler’s life, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. Fans of the latter might automatically want to check out the former, but they will be disappointed if they expect another frothy princess fantasy film. Whereas Coppola’s movie dwelt on the early, wild-child days of Marie Antoinette’s arrival in France, with only hints of the darkness to come, Farewell, My Queen covers the final days of her reign after the Bastille was stormed in July of 1789. Rather than the giddy and girlish Kirsten Dunst in the leading role, the truly regal Diane Kruger portrays the Queen of France with equal parts naivety and steely resolve in the face of her impending doom.

Jan
10
2013
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Chick-Flick Love of "Undercover Bridesmaid" is Painfully Obvious Review

There are many emotions that can be immediately elicited by the phrase “A Hallmark Channel Original Movie.” I’d reckon that most of them are along the lines of “dread” and “foreboding” and “a desire to change the channel.” Yet the Hallmark Channel keeps on cranking out more of these less-than-lustrous gems to clutter the airwaves and the discount DVD bins at your local supermarket. Their audience exists and clearly has an appetite for what they do, though why, I cannot begin to fathom.

From the title, Undercover Bridesmaid sounds like it could be a Disney movie starring Hilary Duff circa 2001; yet this film aired in 2012 and stars an adult woman, Brooke Burns, in the title role. Burns plays Tanya, a bitter and jilted bride who despite a successful career in private security can’t seem to stop throwing darts at images of the man who left her at the altar.

Jan
10
2013
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It's Not You, It's George Lopez, For Better And Worse Review

The subtitle of George Lopez’s third solo stand-up special for HBO is It’s Not Me, It’s You. However, most of Lopez’s humor derives from something that is very much all about him. It’s easy to figure it out--one does within the first minute of his routine. Lopez is Mexican. He is Latino. He is Hispanic. He is not a gringo, and--what a revelation!--that means he is Mexican. There is barely a joke in his routine that does not dwell on this topic of his ethnicity. Fortunately, Lopez is a funny guy, and manages to squeeze enough humor out of what could have been a one-joke theme to entertain viewers for nearly the entire length of the program.

Jan
08
2013
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"Being Human" Emerges From The Shadows (Of Its Predecessor) Review

Syfy’s Being Human is yet another installment in the seemingly endless series of American remakes of popular British television shows. The original Being Human has been airing on BBC Three since 2008 and was recently commissioned for a fifth season despite the recent exit of the only member of the original trio of cast members left--Lenora Crichlow, who portrayed the bubbly ghost Annie. The show’s original moody vampire, Aidan Turner, left at the end of season three, which was also when I stopped watching the show. When dorky werewolf Russel Tovey left shortly after I knew I had made the right choice. I just couldn’t care about the show without the original actors. This is because the strength of Being Human is not the concept, created by Toby Whithouse; the show itself can get rather silly and soapy at times. Rather, it is the chemistry between the three members of the acting ensemble that makes their storylines so compelling to watch.

Jan
08
2013
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"Mankind" Tells An Epic Story Review

Probably the most refreshing thing about Mankind: The Story of All of Us is that it is the first program put out by History in a long time that actually concerns history, not hearsay about aliens or other less than reputable topics. If anything, the series seems to be trying to make up for that deficit in the rest of History’s programming, so jam-packed it is with information. From the producers of the similar America: The Story of Us, Mankind covers every aspect of the history of humanity, from ancient Mesopotamia through to the present day. Each episode focuses on a particular topic that defines the human race or has played a particular recurring role in our history; from "Inventors" to "Warriors," "Revolutions" to "New Frontiers", these themes are delved into with painstaking detail. Nearly all of said information is legitimately very interesting, though the terrible reenactments that History productions are infamous for tend to distract from the quality of the content, especially when watched in high definition.

Dec
24
2012
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It May Be "Impossible" Not To Be Moved Review

Watching The Impossible is less of an entertaining cinematic experience and more of a harrowing one. If you are trying to decide what film to treat yourself to over your holiday break, and want to be filled with spirit and cheer, you’re probably better off heading to Middle-earth than to Thailand in 2004, when the worst tsunami on record struck southeast Asia and devastated the region. The Impossible is the true story of a family whose lives were changed forever by the storm. The fact that everything onscreen is touted as a realistic re-imagining of the storm makes watching the mayhem that ensues all the more traumatic for the viewer.

Dec
21
2012
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