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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Running Wilde: Season One Review

On paper Running Wilde, for many sitcom fans, was one of the more anticipated shows of last season. It reunited the Arrested Development duo of star Will Arnett and writer-producer Mitchell Hurwitz, and threw in the likeable Keri Russell of Felicity fame for good measure. The premise is thus: rich playboy Steve Wilde, son of an evil oil tycoon, lures his childhood sweetheart, environmentalist do-gooder Emmy Kadubic, back into his life by trying to change his selfish ways. She brings along her precocious daughter Puddle (Stefania Owen), who narrates the entire series in an impossibly earnest way.

Aug
31
2011
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The Thomas Hardy Collection Review

The heroes and heroines of Thomas Hardy novels are some of the most tragic and unlucky in all of literature. Scholars of the classic English novel adore Hardy for the same reason that they are scholars of the English novel—they are gluttons for punishment. Hardy’s books are beautifully and poetically written, which makes the stark awfulness of the events that unfold within them all the more painful to read—and yet, these books are also impossible to put down. At least they are for me.

I am one of those aforementioned gluttons for punishment. I love the gorgeous tragedy of Hardy’s stories. They remind you that modern life is a lot easier than life was back then, especially if one was a woman. They also remind you that no matter how bad things seem, they can always get worse, so keep your head up. Tess Durbeyfield, perhaps the best known of Hardy’s tragic heroines, does as much; she refuses to be a mere victim no matter how many awful things try to strike her down. A&E’s The Thomas Hardy Collection is a two DVD set that contains an adaptation of her story, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, as well as one of the lesser known of his great works, The Mayor of Casterbridge. Both play as a somewhat poor-man’s version of Masterpiece Theater, though that doesn’t keep them from being enjoyable to watch if you like that sort of thing.

Aug
24
2011
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Camp Hell Review

The film Camp Hell was released as Camp Hope when it hit a small number of theaters last year. Presumably, the filmmakers decided that for the DVD release it would be better to capitalize on the horror aspects of the film rather than the religious, as well as on the newfound fame of Jesse Eisenberg after successful turns in Zombieland and The Social Network. Hence why the DVD package features “CAMP HELL” in large red letters looming above Eisenberg’s face, despite the fact that he only appears in a few short scenes. Yet those few short scenes provide more chills than the rest of the film, which is a spiritual horror-by-numbers. It’s not horrible, but it’s nothing exciting either.

Aug
10
2011
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Wishful Drinking Review

If you don’t know who Carrie Fisher is, you’ve probably been living under a rock since 1976. Then again, even people who live under rocks have probably seen (or at least heard of) Star Wars, the groundbreaking sci-fi franchise that made Fisher an icon thanks to her role as Princess Leia, intergalactic heroine and sex symbol to geeks of multiple generations. The pros and cons of such overwhelming fame feature prominently in Wishful Drinking, the HBO special that essentially is just a taping of a performance of Fisher’s one-woman Broadway show of the same name (also published in memoir form). Yet the simplicity of the production value and the format serves only to better highlight Fisher’s talents as a performer. Those of you who only know Fisher thanks to George Lucas would do well to watch Wishful Drinking, as it reveals a side of the actress and writer that is a stark contrast from the character that made her a star—and a far more interesting one to boot.

Aug
03
2011
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The Glades: The Complete First Season Review

The release of season one of A&E’s The Glades on DVD nearly perfectly coincides with both the start of the second season as well as the start of summer. The advertisements have been plastered all over New York. You know the ones: the large, juicy orange” pierced with a straw that drips blood and the tagline “Sunny with a Chance of Homicide.” It’s a catchy description as well as a compelling image. However, the show itself is less than such, though it will provide a pleasant diversion for viewers in a summer programming slate barren of the usual suspects. It’s the television equivalent of those cheap paperback romance and mystery novels that you pick up for a few bucks, to read on the beach.

Jun
23
2011
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Public Speaking Review

As a writer, Fran Lebowitz is notorious for a years-long period of writer’s block that, at one point during Public Speaking, she says could more accurately be called a “writer’s blockade.” However, one thing that the woman has absolutely no trouble doing at all is talking. The hilarious conversations and monologues that fill Martin Scorsese’s documentary on Lebowitz could fill a book themselves. Then again, reading Lebowitz’s acerbic speech would not be nearly as entertaining as seeing it come from her mouth, as she smokes a cigarette morosely and meanders down a Greenwich Village street in one of her iconic tailored suits.

Jun
13
2011
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Unstoppable Review

You would think that a film with a title like Unstoppable would somewhat live up to it’s name. Sure, it sounds like a standard action thriller that really could be about anything, whether it be hit men or revenge or gang warfare or, in this case, a runaway train. In fact, the title is so generic that there was actually only six years earlier another film with the exact same title starring Wesley Snipes (that one being about a CIA agent in Bosnia, yet even the DVD cover has thee same color scheme and overall tone as the more recent film of the same name). Yet the generic action thriller, as a genre, has its own charms and entertainment value. As a viewer, I occasionally relish the ability to turn my mind off and take in some good explosions, campy dialogue, and simplistic plot structure. In the endless debate of art versus entertainment, sometimes one just wants to forget about the former and bask in the cheap thrills of the latter. Yet Unstoppable, while appearing to promise guaranteed entertainment, doesn’t quite deliver.

May
23
2011
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The Boy Friend Review

The Boy Friend is a prime example of style over substance when it comes to filmmaking, and the result, while not a masterpiece, is definitely great fun. This is often the case with lavish musicals, which have a tendency to rely more on visual and aural stimulation than anything too complex (see: anything Baz Luhrmann has ever had anything to do with, ever). Seeing as The Boy Friend is primarily an homage to Busby Berkeley’s gorgeous dance-driven films from the 1920s, this kind of stimulation is really all that’s necessary. The film is enjoyable to watch, a kaleidoscope of candy-colored props and costumes and cartoon-faced dancers. All are captured vibrantly in this newly remastered version of the film, available for the first time on DVD as part of the Warner Archive Collection, a series of made-to-order DVDs of rare and cult classic gems.

May
15
2011
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Marlowe Review

There are two primary characteristics of the novels of Raymond Chandler that have rendered them classics. One is their atmosphere: the sexy, corrupt, dangerous world of 1930s Los Angeles, populated with characters so perfectly and snarkily described by protagonist Philip Marlowe that said novels almost demand to be adapted into films. The visuals that Chandler provides in Marlowe’s unique voice put the reader smack dab in the middle of the scene of the crime, and even with the violence, chaos, and debauchery that proceed to take place around you, you’re still glad to be there. The visual element is so strong that filmmakers have seemingly little work to do to bring them to life.

May
15
2011
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Fiddler on the Roof Review

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the film Fiddler on the Roof, nominated for eight Academy Awards in 1971, winner of three, and generally beloved by most fans of musicals, film, and Jewishness. What better way to celebrate than with a glossy new Blu-ray and DVD double package? The film’s quality has never looked better, though the transfer is not quite perfect, and the music has never sounded more vibrant. While I personally think the film is quite dated it’s true that being remastered in high definition adds a much-needed modern feel to the proceedings.

May
03
2011
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The LXD: Seasons 1 & 2 Review

The LXD, or the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, is an award-winning web series and the most-viewed original web series on Hulu—not a small feat. Its success can mostly be chalked up to the current obsession with dance in pop culture (see Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, every other dance show, and the Step Up films). The film Step Up 3D was one such success in this genre, and took the dance fetish to a new level by combining it with another recent pop culture boom—3D technology. It’s not a surprise then that the film’s director, Jon Chu (also responsible for Step Up 2: The Streets and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never), wanted to replicate that in an even more experimental and cutting-edge medium.

May
01
2011
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Heartless Review

Fourteen years passed between the release of Heartless and writer-director Philip Ridley’s last film, 1995’s The Passion of Darkly Noon. Hardcore fans of the intriguing auteur were overjoyed at his return to the big screen; however, those fans are few and far between, more a cult of professional critics than anything else, due to Ridley’s penchant for macabre subject matter, intensely verbose dialogue, and mind game-driven plots. Ridley is in many ways the British David Lynch, though to dismiss him merely as such would be a disservice to his talent. Yet his films, like Lynch’s, while masterfully crafted, are definitely not for everyone, and Heartless is a prime example of this.

Apr
30
2011
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The Garfield Show: Private Eye-Ventures Review

Growing up, I looked forward to the Garfield comic strip featured in the Sunday paper funnies each weekend. Garfield, a large orange tabby cat with an attitude problem and a massive appetite, bore a striking resemblance to my own beloved pet at the time, and the interactions between him, his hapless owner Jon, and the adorably stupid dog Odie were greatly entertaining. They lived relatively mundane lives, but creator Jim Davis inserted a healthy dose of absurdity and humor into even those everyday situations. However, I have had very little interest in the live-action adaptations of the cartoon, with Garfield voiced by Bill Murray; as much as I love both Murray and Garfield, something about those movies just seems indefinably wrong. However, I was eager to give the animated versions of these characters a shot in a nostalgic attempt to relive that part of my childhood.

Apr
15
2011
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Friday Night Lights: The Fifth and Final Season Review

Friday Night Lights never got the treatment or the respect that it deserved. True, the critics adored it, and the audience for the program, while not the biggest, was passionate enough to keep it on the air even as it got shuffled from one time slot to another on NBC before finally finding a rather out-of-the-way home on DirecTV’s The 101 Network. However, even that wasn’t enough to keep it going for the long haul, which is why this week the fifth and final season of the show has been recently released on DVD, officially ending the run of the program.

And what a good run it was. Friday Night Lights was adapted for television from the movie of the same name, which was adapted from the book (also conveniently of the same name) by H.G. Bissinger. While the book was nonfiction and took place in Odessa, Texas, and the film follows that story pretty closely, the television show removes the general themes and characters and places them in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas, giving them more freedom and invention with their storytelling. Yet all of the various forms of media bearing this name tell a similar tale in the end: they chronicle the fever pitch atmosphere of devotion to high school football in the small-town southwest.

Apr
13
2011
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