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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"The Wind Will Carry Us" To Another World Entirely Review

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has been considered one of the most unique and respected voices in international cinema for more than four decades. The average American filmgoer may not be very familiar with his work, but the vast majority of scholars and critics are infatuated with his elegant, conversational, often documentary-style narratives about life. One of these films, The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), has now been re-released on Blu-ray by Cohen Media Group to commemorate its 15th anniversary. It epitomizes many of Kiarostami’s qualities as an auteur, and walks the fine tightrope between fascinating and dull that so many art house films seem wrapped so tightly around.

Oct
08
2014
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Oscar-Winners Can Show Up "Without Warning" Review

It’s always bizarre when respectable actors pop up in less than respectable films. In the case of Without Warning, a gore-tastic alien invasion flick from 1980, those actors are Jack Palance and Martin Landau, both of whom eventually won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor for their roles in City Slicker and Ed Wood, respectively. Both men give totally committed and surprisingly good performances, elevating what is otherwise a solidly mediocre B-movie to something almost memorable. 

Oct
06
2014
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"Benson"'s Good For What Ails You Review

There’s something comforting about classic sitcoms that makes them ideal viewing for when you’re sick, or sad, or just stuck inside on a rainy day; a particularly good one can make you feel as warm and fuzzy as if you were sitting in front of a crackling fireplace on Christmas Eve. Benson, a spin-off of another classic sitcom, Soap, stars Robert Guillaume as the title character, a wisecracking and quick-thinking African-American butler who is hired to manage the hectic household of the hapless Governor Eugene Gatling (James Noble). The music is ridiculously peppy and catchy; the stories are generally confined to single episodes, making it easy to randomly drop in and still understand what’s going on; the characters are all quite likable even when they’re being rude to each other; and the dialogue is entirely made up of one-liners (and clever ones, at that). In short, it embodies all of the qualities that one looks for in a show to be consumed in the same way that you would chicken noodle soup--in large portions, while curled up under a blanket on the couch.

Oct
06
2014
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Won't You Be My "Neighbors"? Review

It has been awhile since I’ve seen a good movie come rolling off the Judd Apatow and Friends assembly line. I’m not entirely sure if that is because I have not seen any of them in awhile (never bothered with This is 40) or if they have all just been rather awful (was not a fan of Funny People); I imagine it is likely a combination of the two. It’s definitely not my maturity level that is to blame; I can still watch Superbad, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Pineapple Express over and over and snort with laughter at crass jokes I have heard a million times before. But lately, any new films featuring Seth Rogen’s gravelly tones, billowing clouds of marijuana smoke and obvious Jewish jokes have just not been at the top of my to-watch list. However, Neighbors pleasantly surprised my low expectations, primarily because it had one thing that many an Apatow-esque movie has been missing before--a female lead who is the equal of her male co-stars.

Oct
01
2014
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"The Stream" Overruns With Good Intentions, If Not Talent Review

It is really hard to be critical of a movie that was essentially made for charity. The majority of the proceeds of The Stream go to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) and its youth development programs, and I don’t really want to stand in the way of a good cause. Not only that, but according to the film’s website, “Nearly 200 kids from BGCA worked behind the camera or in the editing bay.” This makes me feel conflicted. On one hand, it is great that these kids were given the opportunity to explore the wonderful world of filmmaking; it is an opportunity I wish I could have had as a teenager. On the other hand, it explains why so much of The Stream feels childlike and amateurish. It often feels like you are watching a student film, one that the student director’s friends and family would ooh and aah over but that would hold little to impress anyone else.

Oct
01
2014
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"Queen Margot" Has Your Westeros Fix Review

Having only just finished watching the most recent season, and having finished the books quite some time ago, I find myself once again in the throes of Game of Thrones withdrawal. Symptoms include checking the Twitter feed of George R.R. Martin’s editor, Anne Groell, to see if there any hints or updates as to when The Winds of Winter will finally be published, scouring message boards full of excessively detailed fan theories as an alternative to an actual book by the man himself, and even cooking up recipes from my Game of Thrones cookbook. (It's medieval meat pie night!) However, recently I watched a film that checks most of the boxes that one would require in a proper Game of Thrones substitute: Complicated power struggles! Graphic bloody violence! Borderline incest! Not-borderline sex! Sadly, there are no dragons--instead, one gets an education, as this story is based on actual history, of France rather than that of Westeros. It is Queen Margot, released on Blu-ray by the Cohen Film Group to commemorate the award-winning film’s 20th anniversary.

Sep
11
2014
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"The Legend Of Shelby The Swamp Man" Won't Likely Be Passed Down Review

The latest effort by History to fill its programming slate with as little historical content as possible is The Legend of Shelby the Swamp Man, a comical reality series spun off from the network’s hit show Ax Men. The show chronicles what Shelby Stanga, the owner of Swamp Man Logging, gets up to at home in the Bayou when he is not logging. This includes buying a pirate ship to be his new home after his houseboat is destroyed in a hurricane, helping a well-to-do family rid their house of a swamp rat infestation, and hiring a surprisingly preppy voodoo priestess to cleanse the ship of any spirits. He punctuates these shenanigans with frequent outbursts of catchphrases like “Son of a bitch!” and “Here we go!” in his nearly-indecipherable but always enthusiastic twang. A character in every sense of the word, Shelby is the kind of guy who gets bitten by a poisonous snake and reacts by biting the snake’s head off and sticking its corpse in his pants pocket so he can cook it for dinner later.

Sep
11
2014
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"Blood Glacier" Wins 2014's Truth In Advertising Award Review

Some movie titles leave very little to the imagination. This kind of bluntness can be refreshingly clarifying when one is trying to decide what to watch. For instance, one only needs to hear the name Love Story to know that if you’re not into romances, you ought to stay away. Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Horror fans, rejoice--methinks there will be blood. And Texans. Hot Tub Time Machine? You get the picture. Such was my train of thought when I popped Blood Glacier into my DVD player, and goodness knows, the film did not disappoint. It is not trying to do anything obtuse or symbolic. It is not secretly warm and fuzzy. No, it is exactly what its title says it is--a movie about a glacier in that oozes blood. What is surprising, however, is how enjoyable the movie is. In fact, of all of the recent efforts by John Carpenter’s various disciples to make their own version of The Thing without getting sued for copyright infringement, Blood Glacier is the best yet.

Sep
09
2014
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"Only Lovers" Can Bring Vampires Back From The Dead Review

If anyone is capable of rescuing supernatural romance from being permanently relegated to the world of bland, boring “New Adult” trifles, it might be Jim Jarmusch. He has that rare gift of being able to take nearly anything and make it seem effortlessly cool. After all, this is the man who sent a pre-Disneyfied Johnny Depp on a journey to the unknown in Dead Man, had Cate Blanchett converse with herself in Coffee and Cigarettes, and made the ultimate ode to disaffected hipster youth in Strangers in Paradise. His films feel like natural slices of life even when unnatural things are happening to the characters within them, and provide slightly rambling and always stylish snapshots of human relationships.

Sep
03
2014
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"Operation Petticoat" A Victory In The War On Progress Review

Newly available on Blu-ray, Operation Petticoat stars two of Hollywood’s ultimate leading men, Cary Grant and Tony Curtis, in a madcap, candy-colored comedy about two very different officers on a battered submarine in the Pacific during World War II, and what happens when five female Army nurses come aboard. Directed by Blake Edwards (The Pink Panther, among many others), it was released in 1959 and showcases two of the biggest stars in the history of cinema at their brightest and most boisterous--even if the story itself leaves something to be desired.

Aug
22
2014
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A Well-Earned "Resurrection" For ABC Review

I did not have high hopes for Resurrection, ABC’s latest attempt at finding another supernatural-tinged drama to succeed the smash hit that was Lost. After all, high-concept, mythology-driven science-fiction that is capable of appealing to a broad American audience is a tricky balance to get right. Even Lost, a program I initially loved, wore me down by the end with its never-ending series of nonsensical mysteries, which culminated in an excessively sentimental let-down of a finale. Its immediate heir, FlashForward, had some standout moments and a cast packed with talent, but its low ratings meant that it was cancelled so abruptly that the first season’s cliffhanger ending was doomed to never be resolved. However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by Resurrection, the complete first season of which is now available on DVD in time for a good binge-watch prior to its second season premiere in late September.

Aug
15
2014
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"Haunt" Won't Linger, But It Might Spook You Review

Buying a house after three kids and their father all met gruesome ends while living there is apparently nothing to be squeamish about for the Ashers, the family at the center of the horror film Haunt. Rather, they jump at the chance to purchase the supposedly cursed Morello home after former pediatrician Dr. Morello (the divinely weird Jacki Weaver, best known as the matriarch of Silver Linings Playbook) decides that losing her entire family in a variety of tragic and disturbing ways is enough of a reason to get out. Like the Morellos, the Ashers also have three children. And like the Morellos, they too will soon discover that the big, beautiful old house has a dark, ugly spirit inhabiting it.

Aug
15
2014
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"Almost Human" Is Almost Good Review

I’m not the hugest fan of the traditional slasher flick. People going on murderous rampages and dispatching their victims in a variety of gruesome ways does not really appeal to me. It’s not the gore I have a problem with; I just don’t see why one would subject oneself to a fictional film about a killer when reports of similarly terrible and yet all too real crimes fill the newswaves every day. However, supernatural horror is a bit more up my alley. Monsters, aliens, demons, ghosts, zombies and the rest of their ilk are capable of removing these horrific stories from the sphere of reality and adding a sheen of ridiculousness to the buckets of blood that are spilled. Almost Human, a low-budget horror flick in the tradition of old midnight-movie splatterfests, does this by providing audiences with an alien abduction take on the typical slasher movie, with interesting and yet uneven results.

Aug
13
2014
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ScarJo Gets Comfortable "Under The Skin" Review

Clad in the body of a sexy young woman, the extra-terrestrial at the center of Under the Skin drives around Scotland in what is honestly quite a sketchy-looking van, frequently stopping men to ask for directions in a warm, come-hither voice. If the men are alone, the alien invites them in for a ride; the men enthusiastically hop in, hungry for a chance of intimacy with such a beautiful woman. Once they get to the empty black void that is the alien’s apartment (which one would think would elicit some form of suspicion), the alien starts peeling off its clothes, and the men, seemingly hypnotized, end up being swallowed up by a watery substance and sucked of all life. However, eventually the alien seems to grow disenchanted with this existence. Fascinated by how much men admire the woman the alien embodies, it decides to abandon its life as an almost literal man-eater and explore what it means to truly be a human female. Naturally, there are complications to this quest, in the form of other humans as well as the mysterious motorcyclist who is the alien’s partner in crime.

Aug
12
2014
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Sleep In This "Velvet Morning" Review

As a writer, Neil LaBute is a well-known flavor, but the bitter taste his work leaves in your mouth is most definitely not for everyone. He is known for throwing characters into dark situations and letting them wreak havoc on each other emotionally, physically and sexually. These characters, while usually quite intelligent and verbose, are often not very likable, and in many cases downright amoral. In Some Velvet Morning, there are only two of them: Fred (Stanley Tucci), a middle-aged lawyer who has just left his wife, and Velvet (Alice Eve), his beautiful former mistress who he has not seen in four years. When Fred arrives on Velvet’s doorstep out of the blue one morning, announcing that they can now be together, what follows is 82 minutes of conversation between the two former lovers that is played out in real time, feeling much more like a stage play than a film. And because this is Neil LaBute-penned conversation, much of it is not very nice--particularly when it comes to women.

Aug
07
2014
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Once More Into The "Adult World" Review

How many more coming-of-age movies does the world need? At this point, I think we are all aware that growing up is hard to do, and that the period of time following college graduation, when one is hovering on the precipice of leaving reckless youth behind to start real life, is one of the most difficult to navigate. Most recently, Lena Dunham parlayed this familiar concept into an entire television series, Girls, which you may have heard of if you have ever read anything on the Internet. Adult World, a comedy directed by Scott Coffey, is the latest installment in this ever-growing pantheon, telling the story of what happens when aspiring poet Amy Anderson (Emma Roberts) is forced to get a job at a local porn shop after college in order to pay off her student loans.

Aug
07
2014
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Stan Lee Can and Has Done Better Than "Mighty 7" Review

Stan Lee has not only created over two hundred original comic book characters over the course of his singular, legendary career; he is also a fascinating character in his own right, as previously seen in With Great Power...The Stan Lee Story. His kitschy cameos in various Marvel properties over the years have helped cement him as someone who is just as well-known to audiences as his stable of superheroes. So it is not really surprising that in Stan Lee’s Mighty 7: Beginnings, an hour-long animated film that is the first in a forthcoming trilogy based on the comic series of the same title, Lee voices a goofy version of his real life self, complete with constant gags about his career and his age that are of varying corniness. The problem is, even with his unoriginal old man humor, Lee is more fun here than any of the Mighty 7.

Jul
29
2014
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Pal Around With "Ernest & Celestine" Review

I cannot remember the last time I was so thoroughly charmed by a film as I was by Ernest & Celestine, an Academy Award-nominated animated feature adapted from the children’s book series by Belgian author and illustrator Gabrielle Vincent. It tells the story of a spunky little mouse named Celestine who is training to become a dentist but truly wants to be an artist. In Celestine’s world, the mice inhabit a bustling city below ground, while the town above is populated by bears. One such bear is Ernest, an aspiring but poor street performer with a hankering for sweets. Mice and bears live in fear of each other and never enter each other’s worlds; however, Ernest and Celestine end up forming an unlikely friendship when they go on the run together as wanted criminals following the theft of a great deal of candy...and teeth (yes, teeth).

Jul
25
2014
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Tyson Gives Us A Scope As Big As The "Cosmos" Review

I unabashedly adore science-fiction; I love that it bends the rules of our real world and takes us out of the mundane of everyday living, into realms where space travel is as easy as hopping on the subway, giant radioactive monsters emerge from the sea to wage war on each other, a man can relive the same day over and over until he gets it right, and a gigantic train can circle the world on an annual basis and protect humanity from an ice age of its own making. (Seriously, Snowpiercer is the movie of the summer--watch it now!) However, remove the word “fiction” and one might naturally become a bit hesitant. Pure, unadulterated science is often thought of as education more than as entertainment, the stuff of exams rather than of escapism. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey manages to bridge that gap; while watching it, one does feel as though one has been pulled out of everyday life, via the program’s “ship of the imagination,” and into another world--that of the big picture.

Jul
23
2014
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"House Of Dust" Is Exactly As Exciting As Its Title Suggests Review

There’s not much to say about House of Dust; if you’ve seen one movie like this, you’ve essentially seen them all. “Inspired by true events?” Check! Mediocre cast of actors from C-list television shows? Check! Gratingly annoying stereotypes masquerading as characters portrayed by said actors? Check! An abandoned, purportedly haunted building for characters to stupidly break into? Check! Creepy stuff that starts happening once they escape from the haunted building? Ch...well, to be quite honest, nothing even remotely creepy happens in House of Dust. The film is as bland as the taste of the titular particles on your tongue when you walk into a room that has been shut for far too long.

Jul
10
2014
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