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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Scary Things Are Still Coming "From The Dark" Review

It’s a familiar story: young people head into the wilderness for a peaceful getaway or a fun-filled adventure, but encounter horror instead, whether it be otherworldly creatures or an all-too-human killer. From there, it is a battle for survival--and all too often the heroes, with all their human follies and foibles, come up short in the face of evil. It’s a basic formula for fright that has been remixed by filmmakers time and time again, with varying results: recent standouts include Eden Lake (2008), which forced Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly to endure psychological and physical torture at the hands of some terrifying teenagers, and The Descent (2005), which stranded a team of spelunkers deep underground in cave populated by bloodthirsty creatures of the same mold as Gollum--if he had rabies. From the Dark does not quite reach those films' heights, but it is solidly scary, more so than many of the other horror films I have seen of late.

Jul
07
2015
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It's Always Worth A Trip To "Broadchurch" Review

Broadchurch was a smash hit when it debuted on ITV in 2013. Created and written by Chris Chibnall (Torchwood) and starring David Tennant (Doctor Who) and the ever-underrated Olivia Colman (Peep Show, Hot Fuzz), the debut season chronicled the devastating effect that a murder investigation had on a small fictional town on England’s Jurassic Coast, all towering cliffs and crashing waves--gorgeous, but undeniably dangerous. Tennant’s DI Alec Hardy, an outsider sent to Broadchurch to start anew after a high-profile investigation went awry, and Colman’s DS Ellie Miller, an ambitious local cop resentful of Hardy for swooping in and stealing the promotion she wanted, had some of the best crime-solving chemistry since Special Agent Dale Cooper met Sheriff Harry S. Truman on Twin Peaks. The eventual reveal of who murdered local boy Danny Latimer was a real doozy, with a twist that could have came off as cheap in lesser hands but instead felt rich thanks to Chibnall’s masterful writing and Colman’s punched-in-the-gut performance. Like all successful things, people immediately wanted more--but with the murder solved, where could Broadchurch possibly go from there?

Jun
27
2015
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Excitement Is Just A Little "Beyond The Reach" Review

In Beyond the Reach, Jeremy Irvine (best known for playing the lead role in War Horse) stars as Ben, a young tracker who has taken on the “family business” of serving as the one-man search and rescue operation of a small town on the borders of the unforgiving Mojave Desert. Rather than join his girlfriend, Laina (Hannah Mangan Lawrence) in Denver where she is starting college on a swim team scholarship, Ben remains behind--and is soon enlisted by the local sheriff to take a brash big-game hunter named John Madec out into the desert to hunt bighorn sheep. Unfortunately for Ben, he doesn’t immediately realize how dangerous of a predator Madec truly is.

Jun
26
2015
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You Might Be "Blindsided" By How Dumb This Is Review

Blindsided, alternatively known as Penthouse North, was first announced in 2011, screened at festivals in 2013, aired on Lifetime in January 2014 and is only just now making its way to DVD--a winding road to be sure, and one that generally does not bode well for a film’s quality. Written by seasoned thriller writer David Loughery (Lakeview Terrace, Obsessed) and directed by Joseph Ruben (cult horror classic The Stepfather), Blindsided stars Michelle Monaghan as Sara, a photojournalist who was blinded by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan (though her pretty face was conveniently left unmarred by the explosion), and Michael Keaton as Hollander, a vicious criminal determined to find the diamonds that are supposedly hidden in Sara’s glamorous New York City penthouse.

Jun
26
2015
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"Shakespeare Uncovered": An Actor By Any Other Name Makes All The Difference Review

A filmmaker friend of mine recently expressed a desire to improve her ability to work with actors by workshopping scenes from Shakespeare. The thought was that the material is so resolutely timeless, rich with words and ripe for interpretation that it lends itself perfectly to exploring the art of storytelling through performance. She isn’t the only one; actors, directors, scholars and enthusiasts still cannot get enough of William Shakespeare, even as we near the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death. I myself am one of them; the whiplash-inducing witty dialogue and strong female characters in plays like Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing stand head and shoulders above much of what has been produced in the centuries since. Fortunately, for people like us, PBS has given us a present in the form of the second series of Shakespeare Uncovered, now available on DVD.

Jun
26
2015
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Figuring All This Out Will Take Some "Fortitude" Review

In the proud tradition of atmospheric small town murder mysteries like Twin Peaks and Broadchurch comes Fortitude, a twelve-episode thriller from the UK’s Sky Atlantic. Like those aforementioned dramas, this show takes its name from its absolutely singular setting--a fictional town situated on the Arctic Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. Barely a century old and with only about 800 inhabitants, Fortitude is a peaceful and uneventful place apart from the occasional incursion of polar bears. (Indeed, residents are forbidden from going out into the wilderness without a rifle for protection from the beasts.) The isolated island has never seen a violent crime--that is, until scientific researcher Charlie Stoddart (Christopher Eccleston) is brutally murdered in his home.

Jun
20
2015
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No More Will This Plague Be "Forgotten" Review

The Forgotten Plague is the latest in the American Experience series of documentaries. Airing on PBS, each of these films delves deep to tell the story of something or someone that has impacted American life, ranging from Walt Disney to the Vietnam War. Written, produced and directed by Chana Gazit, who is also responsible for episodes that dealt with the Dust Bowl and the Pill, among others, The Forgotten Plague chronicles the history of tuberculosis. Alternatively referred to as consumption, the disease plagued people as far back as ancient Greece, appearing to be everywhere and seeming impossible to eliminate. Based partially upon the book Living in the Shadow of Death by Sheila Rothman, The Forgotten Plague interviews historians, scientists and even survivors of sanatoriums to show how this disease, as terrible as it was, shaped modern America as we know it by being an instigator for expansion, innovation and discovery.

Jun
19
2015
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Preoccupation With Babes Keeps This Stuck In The "Muck" Review

When a film prominently advertises that the 2012 Playboy Playmate of the Year is in its cast, you can generally suspect what kind of experience awaits you. When the opening credits roll over footage of a topless woman stumbling around a field, her face obscured so that she is literally no more than a pair of breasts, your suspicions are immediately confirmed. Such is Muck, an indie horror flick more interested in sexy women than scares. The debut feature from writer/director Steve Wolsh, it chronicles what happens to a group of hot young things in the fictional Cape Cod town of West Craven (yup) as they are terrorized by a mysterious killer (played by Kane Hodder, a stuntman and horror icon best known for playing Jason Voorhees in four of the Friday the 13th movies). Spoiler alert: Most of them die, in brutal and barbaric fashion.

Jun
18
2015
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Pryor Omits "The Logic", But Never the Truth Review

When Richard Pryor first burst onto the comedy scene in the mid-Sixties, he was hardly the man most of us know today--the edgy and occasionally uncomfortable stand-up and actor who shocked people with his frank and funny takes on race in the United States. Rather, he was a nervous guy who suffered from stage fright and modeled his act on Bill Cosby’s mainstream, family-friendly brand of humor. If he had remained that man, we probably would not still be talking about his life and his work today. However, Pryor eventually threw caution to the wind, embraced the counterculture and built a reputation as someone who wasn’t afraid to tell the bold truth under the guise of entertainment. 

Jun
03
2015
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If The "L.A. Apocalypse" Happens, See Who Notices Review

Say what you will about the end of the world and how it will come about, but one thing is generally for certain: it won’t be boring. Nuclear war and mass annihilation, natural disasters, unstoppable plagues, a big old meteorite hitting Earth...none of these events are pleasant, but they are also not boring. They are the opposite of boring. They are so jam-packed with unwanted adrenaline, excitement and anxiety that if you were actually experiencing them you might just die of an apocalypse-induced heart attack. But, you would not be bored.

May
28
2015
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"Selma" Marches On Review

There are films that we want to watch, and there are films that we need to watch. Goodness knows I am constantly overwhelmed by things I want to watch, especially during the summer months; I’m currently counting the minutes until I can see Mad Max: Fury Road and trying to plan a date to see Ex Machina before the over-the-top hype kills the buzz for me. Yet sometimes a film tells a story so important, you feel it is your duty to buy a ticket and hear what it has to say. It might not have the cinematic draw of a one-armed, bald badass played by Charlize Theron, or an unbelievably believable A.I., but it needs to be seen--and by as many people as possible--nonetheless. It is a very rare movie that achieves this quality of necessity, but Selma is most definitely one of them.

May
28
2015
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"V/H/S: Viral" Pumps Some Life Into Found Footage Review

V/H/S: Viral is probably the best found footage horror film that I have seen in a long time--though, considering that found footage horror is possibly my most loathed subgenre of film, that might not mean much. And to be fair, V/H/S: Viral is not that scary of a movie, so hardcore horror junkies may not be as fond of it as I am. However, this anthology--the third installment in the V/H/S series of films--manages to stand head and shoulders above others of its ilk thanks to its sheer weirdness. The three shorts that make up the bulk of the feature (in addition to a weak wrap-around story that leaves a great deal to be desired) are so delightfully bizarre and laden with so much freaky imagery that even if you’re not frightened by them, you’ll at least pay attention to them.

May
27
2015
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"The Hobbit" Finally Arrives with "The Battle of the Five Armies" Review

In The Fellowship of the Ring, there is a moment prior to Bilbo’s birthday party and disappearance when he tries to justify his imminent departure to Gandalf. “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread,” he muses. Naturally, when Peter Jackson turned his attentions to adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's other masterwork, The Hobbit, and announced that one novel would be fleshed out further and turned into an entire trilogy of movies, people turned around and thrust Bilbo’s words back at the filmmaker. “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like one novel adapted into three movies,” they joked. Well, the third movie is finally here, and while as entertaining and aesthetically pleasing as one might expect from Jackson and his talented team (including recently deceased cinematographer Andrew Lesnie), it does indeed suffer from that long-predicted flaw: it feels very stretched.

May
26
2015
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"Frontline" Tackles Gun Control and Gets Shot in the Ensuing Struggle Review

To be honest, I am not sure why so many Frontline documentaries are released on DVD. That is no slight on the quality of the films or the importance of the topics; I just can’t fathom having such a desire to re-watch a Frontline film that I would go out, buy the DVD and keep it stored lovingly on my shelf alongside my James Bond box set for many future viewings. It’s not the first thought that comes to mind when planning a movie night with friends: “Hey, let’s watch that Frontline movie on concussions in the NFL!” “No, let’s watch the one about all the weird stuff they put in our food!” Sure, to watch it once is one thing, and an often enlightening thing, but to watch it twice just seems a bit masochistic--a lot masochistic depending on how dark the subject matter is.

May
26
2015
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Damici Makes "Late Phases" Howl Review

Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf stars an appropriately gruff, grizzled and grumpy Nick Damici as Ambrose McKinley, a blind Vietnam War vet who has just moved to the picturesque retirement community of Crescent Bay following the death of his wife. Accompanied by his trusty seeing eye dog, Shadow--the only living thing that he seems to approve of--McKinley proceeds to settle down and wait for death to come for him, even going so far as to ask his son to drive him to shop for tombstones. However, after the one neighbor to greet him kindly dies in a gruesome late-night attack, and brave Shadow meets a similar, tragic fate, McKinley is forced to come out of retirement and be the one thing he was ever truly good at: a soldier.

Apr
20
2015
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Duplication Is No "Vice" Review

Considering Hollywood’s ever-increasing fear of making anything groundbreaking and original, preferring instead to rely on unnecessary sequels and remakes of proven material, I was dismayed but not terribly shocked. when I heard that Ridley Scott was planning to produce a sequel to Blade Runner. One of the greatest science-fiction films ever made, the film has truly earned the label of cult classic; why sully its legacy by creating what is guaranteed to be a lesser imitator? Especially when so many films that fall under that umbrella already exist?

Apr
14
2015
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"Amish" Test The Boundaries Of Reality Even Further Review

When The Real World first debuted on MTV in 1992, the concept of a show that sent a group of obnoxious strangers to live together in a house with their every action caught on tape was groundbreaking. The weird, voyeuristic night-vision footage of people canoodling! The confessionals that were clearly scripted by the producers! The weird fights inserted for dramatic effect, ranging from stealing someone’s peanut butter or sleeping with someone’s significant other! Since then, we’ve been treated to multiple variations on this theme, including Big Brother (the competitive version), Jersey Shore (the spray-tanned version) and Party Down South (the southern-fried version). Clearly, television producers are running out of ways to make this tired concept seem fresh and exciting. Lo and behold, TLC is here, with an answer: let’s make the housemates Amish.

Apr
14
2015
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"Race For Your Life" Coasts On Snoopy Review

Very few people will argue with you if you state that A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of the greatest holiday specials of all time. It manages to toe the line of being sweet but not saccharine, sentimental but not overly so, touching on the true meaning of Christmas without being too alienating. (Not to mention that its Vince Guaraldi score is iconic in its own right.) Its Halloween-focused counterpart, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, has also stood the test of time and become a holiday television classic. However, those two famous films do not mark the only times that the sad-sack, self-conscious and shy star of Charles Schultz’s long-running comic strip has come to life onscreen alongside his gang of eccentric friends and his goofy beagle, Snoopy.

Apr
01
2015
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"Top Five" Ranks At The Top Of The List Review

Upon popping Top Five into my DVD player, it became immediately apparent to me why so many critics had compared the Chris Rock comedy to Woody Allen’s early work when the film first hit theaters last winter. From the opening shots of the film, when simple white titles on a black screen cut to two smart and stylish individuals in mid-argument on a busy city street, Top Five stylistically echoes Allen’s best movies about love, life and neurotic New Yorkers. Yet that comparison does not do the film justice. Despite these noticeable retro influences, Top Five manages to be the freshest and most modern comedy in years--definitely exceeding the majority Allen’s more recent oeuvre, and pretty much everything else in theaters too.

Apr
01
2015
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"Summer Of Blood" Has Some Bite Review

Let’s be forthright, here: Onur Tukel does not look like your typical Hollywood leading man. No wonder, then, that Summer of Blood is not your typical Hollywood vampire movie (though, now that vampires are sparkly and drive Volvos, who knows what is typical anymore). The fortysomething, pudgy, graying Turkish-American is repeatedly compared to Jerry Garcia throughout this indie horror-comedy, which he wrote, directed and stars in as hapless slacker Erik Sparrow.

Sparrow is, to put it mildly, not a winner. He spends most of his dead-end sales job hitting on his coworker Penelope (Dakota Goldhor) and masturbating in the bathroom, and he turns down a marriage proposal from his beautiful, ambitious girlfriend Jody (Anna Margaret Hollyman) because he is a commitmentphobe. When Jody gets fed up and finally leaves him, it looks like Erik’s lazy, lackluster life has finally dwindled to a standstill. That is, until he becomes a vampire. Once bitten, Erik becomes a fanged sex maniac, whose thirst for women’s bodies is only equaled by his thirst for blood. Yet, despite his newfound abilities in the sack--not to mention, you know, his immortality--Erik still longs for Jody. He is also still a foul-mouthed, fast-talking and frequently offensive human being.

Mar
24
2015
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