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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"Saw" And "Hostel" Bear The "Mark Of The Devil" Review

When a film comes packaged with its own branded barf bag, one approaches the experience of watching it with either trepidation or excitement, depending on one’s taste in cinematic entertainment. Due to the increased popularity of the torture porn genre in recent years, one can imagine that there are a great number of viewers who would fall into the latter camp. Indeed, films like Saw and Hostel owe a great debt to Mark of the Devil, the 1970 horror film directed by Michael Armstrong and starring German cult movie legend Udo Kier.

Kier portrays the too-obviously named Christian, the glamorously and eyeliner-clad assistant to Lord Cumberland, a powerful medieval witch hunter and advocate of torture, played by the intimidating Herbert Lom. When Christian falls for the voluptuous barmaid Vanessa (Olivera Katarina), who is then accused of witchcraft by Cumberland and other townspeople, Christian becomes disenchanted with his master’s ruthless ways and starts to rebel against him and the church. Naturally, this can only lead to dire consequences for everyone involved, and much bloodshed ensues.

Dec
16
2012
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The "Southern Wild" Is Where The Real Wild Things Are Review

It is hard to describe Quvenzhane Wallis’s performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild without sounding hyperbolic. Words like “revelatory,” “magnetic” and “mind-blowing,” come to mind, yet all of these adjectives sounds cliched, and have been overused to describe lesser performances and films so often that they lose their value. Suffice to say, Wallis gives what is not only one of the greatest ever performances by a young actor, but by far one of the best performances by any actor of any age this year. She is not only in nearly every scene of this ninety-minute film, she controls and commands those scenes with gravity and charisma that actors three times her age would long to possess. Her round face, framed by a mane of frizzy hair that gives her the regal bearing of a lion, is capable of expressing so much in just a mere twitch or glance. Compared to the showy histrionics that so many others rely on, it is quite refreshing. On its own, it is still a wonder to behold.

Dec
16
2012
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Stan Lee's Love of Comics Comes Alive "With Great Power" Review

A recurring theme that Stan Lee cites as being the main reason for the great success and mass appeal of the characters he has created for Marvel Comics throughout his career is to remember that the humanity of the ordinary person behind the mask is actually more important than the glamorous, super-powered alter ego. In the feature-length documentary With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, one gets a glimpse behind the mask at the true Stan Lee, a creative genius and pop culture impresario responsible for bringing to life characters as varied as Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Thor--just to name a few. As a result, he himself is a hero to many who have grown up with and identify with these characters. But what is Stan Lee really like?

Dec
11
2012
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The Expressionistic "We Can't Go Home Again" is Worth a Visit Review

It is safe to say that Nicholas Ray was one of Hollywood’s first and most influential auteurs. Best known for directing the classic Rebel Without a Cause, his experimentations with color and composition onscreen earned him great respect in the world of filmmaking even as his controversial behavior threatened to freeze him out.

In the 1970s, on the downswing of his career, Ray took a teaching position at SUNY Binghamton and set up a filmmaking commune of sorts with a small group of students. Together they lived and breathed film, creating a movie starring partially fictionalized versions of themselves that Ray worked on throughout the decade until his death from cancer in 1979. The movie, We Can’t Go Home Again, is ninety-plus minutes of highly expressionistic and experimental storytelling, best categorized as equal parts documentary, collage, and acid trip.

Nov
12
2012
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Make 'Em Laugh: Louie Anderson Disarms with Charm in "Big Baby Boomer"

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The title of Louie Anderson’s stand-up special, Louie Anderson: Big Baby Boomer, pretty much sums up the entirety of the rotund comedian’s oeuvre of jokes. He has a wealth of material about coming to terms with both his lifelong struggle with weight as well as being over fifty. However, what could have been a relatively one-note show ends up being genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, thanks to Anderson’s easy self-deprecating charm.

Nov
11
2012
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Boateng Biopic "A Man's Story" Ends Fashionably Quick Review

So much of the fashion world and the surrounding it revolves around women’s clothing. High-end couture gowns hold the public interest much better than a well-cut suit, it would seem. Yet the art of menswear is a highly precise and difficult one to master. Ozwald Boateng, the subject of filmmaker Varon Bonico’s documentary A Man’s Story, is one such master. He is one of the most successful tailors in the world and was the youngest ever to move onto the most elite of London’s fashionable addresses, Savile Row. A charismatic British man of Ghanaian descent, his African heritage infuses his sharp suits with bright colors and bold patterns that have helped him stand out in a sea of designers and earn enough fame to be a go-to tailor for Hollywood’s most elite stars.

Nov
05
2012
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A Unique But Very Indie Comedy is the Only Promise of "Safety Not Guaranteed" Review

In 1997, Backwoods Home Magazine published a joke classified ad in which someone inquired for a partner to travel back in time with them. Said partner was urged to bring their own weapons and was also warned: “safety not guaranteed.” That ad inspired a screenplay by first-time feature writer Derek Connolly, which was turned into Director Colin Treverow's film Safety Not Guaranteed. Said screenplay went on to win the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and earn much praise elsewhere for its unusual take on the time travel genre with a cast of Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, and Jake M. Johnson.

Oct
30
2012
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"Magical Mystery Tour" Not Especially Magical, Plenty Mysterious Review

Any fan of the Beatles knows that the band created not only some of the most memorable music of the Sixties, but also some truly classic films. A Hard Day’s Night is as good of a showcase of a world phenomenon at its prime as anyone could hope for, featuring the Beatles at their fresh and giddy best as they goof off together and perform their hits for delighted audiences. Help!, a comedy adventure directed by the same man behind A Hard Day’s Night, Richard Lester, is a tad more out there plot-wise, but still a bundle of fun. Ringo is kidnapped by an evil cult, with the rest of the band forced to rescue him; the entire enterprise is scored by some of the Beatles’ most purely pop hits.

Oct
24
2012
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Nina Conti Finds Love in the Silence of a "Voice" Review

Nina Conti: Her Master’s Voice could have been one of the creepier documentaries ever made if placed in lesser hands than Nina Conti herself. It chronicles the deeply personal journey of Conti, a British ventriloquist, to an annual ventriloquism convention in Kentucky. Here she plans on laying to rest one of the six puppets she recently inherited from her deceased ex-lover, British theater impresario and puppet enthusiast Ken Campbell. Vent Haven is a museum in Kentucky designed for such a purpose; here, people can come and view the puppets whose masters are deceased, puppets who no longer have human voices given to them and instead sit in silence.

Oct
18
2012
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Edgar Allen Poe's Life Gets a Ridiculous but Enjoyable Twist in "The Raven" Review

John Cusack’s career has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. Once the adorable Eighties heartthrob of classics like Say Anything… and Better off Dead, he eventually grow up and segued into a mix of big-budget crowd-pleasers of a questionable quality (2012) and indie passion projects that have become cult classics (High Fidelity, Grosse Pointe Blank). Throughout all, his talent cannot be questioned; he’s a witty and naturalistic actor, oftentimes the best part of tripe, like…well, 2012. His height and brooding looks make him quite the sex symbol for the thinking girl. What better role for such an actor than in James McTeigue's The Raven as  Edgar Allan Poe, an author renowned for his dark moods as much as his genius?

Oct
16
2012
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The Turbulent Genre-Hopping of "Airborne" Will Make You Sick Review

Dominic Burns's Airborne starts out as a film that appears to be making the most out of the basic formula of films set aboard airplanes. Air traffic controller Malcolm (played by Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill), sends one last plane off into the night as he London skies grow ominous and stormy. The plane is not full and understaffed, but populated by characters that include a British gangster and his two bodyguards, a heartbroken alcoholic, a mysterious flight attendant who may be a terrorist, and a pair of soldiers with violent pasts, and a create containing an ancient vase that is about to be sold at auction for millions.

Airplanes might be, statistically, one of the safest ways to travel, but they’re also quintessentially good settings for a thriller. Characters are suspended thousands of feet above the ground, often over the ocean, for hours at a time, with no means of escape. There are only a few select people on board who can get them to safely, and if something happens to them, the plane plummets from the sky and everyone else is doomed. If there is a murderer, a virus, or, God forbid, a crate load of poisonous snakes (ahem) loose on the plane, there is no way out but into mid air and death. It’s a claustrophobic location filled with strangers, any of who could be something other than what they seem. It seems like a formula for a film filled with twists, turns, and natural human anxiety.

Oct
16
2012
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"The Victim" Lacks the Campy Wink Necessary to Empower It Review

Actor Michael Biehn has played a memorable part in many films, most notably The Terminator and Aliens. You’d think that having spent so many years on sets with famed, lauded directors like James Cameron, he would have taken away a few basic pieces of knowledge as how to direct a film himself. You’d think that having been a part of Robert Rodriquez’s half of Grindhouse, Planet Terror, he’d have witnessed first-hand how to make a great, pulpy film that is equal parts gore and glee—and on a shoestring budget nonetheless.

Biehn cites his time working with Rodriguez as the inspiration to direct his own film, yet none of this comes through in Biehn’s directorial debut, The Victim, in which he also stars. The campy wink so clearly on display in films like Planet Terror is absent here.

Oct
02
2012
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Meandering "Goats" Has a Great Cast but No Sense of Direction Review

A lot of indie films create a delightful ensemble of quirky characters and then do not really know what to do with them but let them run free onscreen. Director Christopher Neil's Goats is one of those films. The extended family that surrounds protagonist Ellis Whitman (played with natural boyish charm by Graham Phillips) is, for the most part, utterly strange. They’re the kinds of eccentrics that have enough money to justify the rather strange lives they live; no economic constraints can force them to behave otherwise.

Ellis has grown up on a relatively isolated ranch in Tucson with his New Age spiritual freak of a mother, Wendy (the always impressive Vera Farmiga, who makes what could be an overly grating and annoying role more sympathetic), and the bearded, perpetually stoned scientist known as Goat Man, played by David Duchovny with the ease of someone who was somehow born to play someone so off-kilter. On the east coast are Ellis’s absentee dad (Ty Burrell), who Wendy still rages and wars against after all these years, and his lovely new wife, Judy (a glowing and sweet Keri Russell). It’s no wonder Ellis jumps at the chance to escape the madness and go to a prep school, where he runs cross-country, smokes a lot of weed, flirts with a mysterious blonde, and makes a few equally odd new friends.

Oct
01
2012
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When Modern Medicine Fails, Some Turn to "The Sacred Science"...Which Will Also Likely Fail Review

Desperate people will seek all kinds of measures when it comes to solving a seemingly unsolvable problem., especially when that problem is life or death. The eight people at the center of producer-director-editor Nicolas Polizzi’s documentary The Sacred Science suffer from ailments that are nearly impossible to treat or cure—Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, and more. Where first-world science has failed them, they are hoping that the medicine men of the Peruvian jungle can help. It is enlightening to see how the modern medicine men do not conform to traditional stereotypes of indigenous peoples in dress and behavior.

Sep
27
2012
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The Candy-Coated, Larger-Than-Life Personality of "Katy Perry" Feels Right at Home on the Movie Screen Review

Katy Perry is a cotton candy confection of a pop star, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She personifies pop, in the sugary, empty-calories sense that Coca-Cola also does, and her music is for many people, me included, just as enjoyable as that beverage, albeit just as much of a guilty pleasure. One would expect Katy Perry: Part of Me to be a nonstop giddy-girly gigglefest, like having a sleepover with your best friend who also happens to be a pop star who shoots shaving cream out of her bra onto thousands of fans. Yet there are also a large share of surprisingly dark moments within the film, which is a documentary chronicling the year Perry spent on tour promoting her mega-hit album Teenage Dream to sold-out arenas around the world.  It offers the viewer a glimpse inside the world of pop music, with the challenges faced in becoming a star as well as in maintaining one’s personal life in the process.

Sep
21
2012
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Is Anything Really "Safe" From Jason Statham? Review

Jason Statham is one of the most prevalent action stars of our time, as well as one of the most underrated character actors. He first exercises his chops under the skillful watch of Guy Ritchie in films like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, before embarking on a career that relied more on his ample physical talents (as in, beating the hell out of people) and less on his acting. Yet Statham never really turns in a bad performance, even in terrible films like Revolver (a low point for Ritchie) and In the Name of the King. He brings a healthy dose of humor to cheeky trash like The Expendables and the Crank films, smirking the whole way through as though to let us know that he’s having as good of a time in the film as the audience is watching him. Even better, in films like The Bank Job and Killer Elite, he shows that when required, he can perfectly blend his ability to do his own stunts with his ability to give a good performance.

Sep
19
2012
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Get Your Singles Ready For "Bachelorette" Review

The weird relationship cocktail that is female friendships has been portrayed more and more realistically on the big screen as of late. This is especially true of recent comedies that have managed to prove that real women can be just as bawdy and brash as boys. Bridesmaids perfectly captured the mix of sisterly sweetness and jealous bitterness that involuntarily flows in the veins of a woman watching one of her dear friends succeed and being overcome by the mixture of happiness for a friend and sadly wondering what she did wrong in her own life. Bachelorette, from the title and subject matter, almost sounds like it’s just going to be a rehash of that blockbuster film; however, Bachelorette is even more morbidly funny and, in some instances, terrifying. It shows what happens when one is a woman of a certain age who feels as though she has it all, or at least should, and how one deals with the knowledge that one isn’t as content as she should be.

Sep
07
2012
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Impressionists Assemble! Or How "The Barnes Collection" Came to Be Review

The Barnes Collection is quite a good documentary but one that will appeal to quite a small audience. It tells the story of the Barnes Foundation, which was created by Dr. Albert Barnes in the early part of the 20th century in an effort to teach people about art. He used his small fortune to snag paintings by every great Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Early Modern artist that he could fine, with no thought for context, and displayed them in his hometown of Philadelphia for everyone to enjoy.

Barnes was obsessed with art, but more so with the education of art, with learning about the craft rather than practicing it oneself. He hoped to make the foundation as important of a learning institution as Harvard or Columbia, but instead it became a mere suburban attraction. However, this year the collection was moved to a gorgeous and modern building in the heart of Philadelphia designed to display the art to its maximum potential, the way Barnes intended it.

Aug
28
2012
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"One in the Chamber" Has Cuba Gooding Jr. and Dolph Lundgren Firing Blanks Review

There are very few gangster movies in recent memory that rise above and beyond what is expected of them. One would cite David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed as proof that the genre can still make the high honor roll; yet lately it seems that the classic gangster flick is content to settle for an easy C grade. One in the Chamber is precisely that kind of film; it is not completely terrible enough to flunk out of theatres but it also isn’t striving for anything special. It is vastly mediocre in every way. As a result, it ends up being more boring than one could think possible; if it were a film so bad that it was scraping the bottom of the barrel, it might at least have been entertaining with that underrated, so-bad-its-good snicker that certain films seem to have. Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. continues his descent into Hollywood obscurity with the cookie-cutter role of jaded hitman Ray Carver. Every gangster film has a Ray Carver, and while Gooding is a legitimately talented actor, more talented than most in this genre, even he cannot give Carver enough depth or unique qualities to make the audience care about his fate.

Aug
24
2012
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Full Metal Jacket 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Book Edition Review

Stanley Kubrick is one of the few filmmakers who is generally considered a genius by everyone involved in the film industry.  His body of work is universally adored in a way that nearly no other auteur can claim (yes, including Eyes Wide Shut). Other celebrated filmmakers, like Steven Spielberg, might get derided by the indie set for being too commercial, while others, such as David Lynch, take art house to an extreme of being essentially unintelligible to most audiences. However, Kubrick manages to find the perfect marriage between these two sides of the filmmaking coin. It’s the quintessential question people ask of all media: is it art, or is it entertainment? Should it be one more so than the other? Kubrick’s films all seem to straddle the line and insist that they can be both, by using unusual shooting techniques and an artistic mindset to tell stories with enough appeal to entertain even the lowest common denominators.

Aug
15
2012
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