Meet Our Talented Team of Reviewers
We have a passion for what we do, love to have fun, and bring out the very best in one another.
Leah Aldridge is a PhD student at USC in Critical Studies, looking at the history, theory, and criticism of film, TV and other media. Leah also has an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA and a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from USC.
"My formative viewing years consisted of films like Five Fingers of Death, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, and Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Is it any wonder that I still have dreams of little orange men engaged in macabre, campy, chopsocky fights smeared in Hershey sauce? I enjoy thinking and analyzing film and television as much as I enjoy watching them (I like to watch). 'Just Seen It' gives me an opportunity to do one of the things I do best: run my mouth."
Rachel Appelbaum has an MFA in acting from USC and a BA in biology from Cornell University. She has acted in a variety of films, TV shows, commercials, and music videos. When not acting, she is also works as a pianist and puppeteer.
"Acting is the most challenging and most engaging form of artistic expression I know. It requires a person to lend their body, their imagination, and their own personal history to create a character. I act in order to experience this, and I attend films in order to witness it."
Aaron Fink is a graduate of the Critical Studies program at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, where he focused on sound and music for film. In addition, Aaron also serves as co-producer, director and supervising sound mixer for Just Seen It.
"I love movies for a laundry list of reasons. The primary one is that film has the ability to trick us in ways that no other medium of entertainment can. An entire movie can be filmed in one location, and with incredible amounts of hard work, the final film can look like it was shot around the world. My other primary reason for loving film is its ability to distract and simultaneously entertain. During my formative years as an angst-y teenager, the only form of entertainment I truly enjoyed was movie watching. That's why I came to USC for film; I figured if I'm going to spend that much money, it might as well be to learn about something I love.
Salim Lemelle recently completed his masters at USC in writing for screen and television. He als recevied his BAchelor of Arts from Pomona college double majoring in Black Studies and Media Studies.
"I am the son of a revolutionary who had dreams of becoming a film maker but had to become a teacher to support his family. Twenty four years later I am living his dream for him. I love film because of it's ability to teach, and being the son of a teacher, realized this is how I was going to educate the world about my people. "
Liz Manashil has a Masters in Film & TV Production from USC. She received her B.A. in Film and Media Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. She is currently in production on her first feature, "Bread and Butter."
I find movies to be the only catharsis that I can get whenever I want. When I was in high school I would sneak out of the house and go to movies by myself and work out my problems. I'm not religious but I always felt a mixed sense of awe and security in a movie theater. Now, when I'm writing or editing (or directing)- and I work out a kink, I feel a relief that applies to my personal life as well as my professional one. Movies keep me sane.
Brenna Smith is an aspiring actress and anthropology student at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Her entire life has been engrossed in media, particularly film and music, due to an equally fanatical mother.
"As the daughter of a woman pursuing a PhD in film, cinema has always been an important part of my life. From a very young age, I was taught to make sure I knew why I did or did not like something, and to be able to articulate it to others. I adore the power of film, particularly how it so perfectly captures the culture of the time and place it was made, and how it can tell multiple stories, beyond the original plot or intent."
Sean Wright has an MFA from USC's School of Cinematic Arts concentrating in writing and directing. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
"I find movies to be the most rewarding and frustrating art form imaginable. They provide an endless supply of anything you could hope for: emotion, action, comedy. There is no better feeling than seeing a movie and wanting to experience again, right away. Also, there are few things I can think of that are harder to deal with than a terrible movie, except maybe a loss of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. The best hope I have is that the good will outweigh the bad."
Kevin Taft earned his BA from Eastern CT State University in Video and Television Production. He is a film critic for Edge Media Network and a freelance journalist and theatre critic for Frontiers Magazine in LA.
"I can't think of anything I love more in the world besides movies. I remember going to the movies for the first time (double feature of "Cinderella" and "Super Dad") and like most people from my generation, "Star Wars" completely changed my life. Movies were my escape from whatever troubled me growing up and in many ways Steven Spielberg, John Hughes, and George Lucas saved my life. Going to the movies is my "church" and I'll pray at that altar every day."
Zorianna Kit is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. and filled in for the late Roger Ebert on "Ebert & Roeper." She was a reviewer on AMC's "The Movie Club with John Ridley." Zorianna covers film for Reuters and The Huffington Post.
"It's a euphoric feeling to walk out of a movie that moves you, challenges you, makes you laugh so hard you're on the floor, or reduces you to a crying blubbering mess. At the same time, there's nothing more infuriating that watching a bad movie that just fails to stir anything in you. I guess in that sense, going to the cinema is like having a rendez vous with a lover. You want to come out of the encounter feeling satisfied. When you are, it's cathartic. When you're not, it's pretty damn annoying."
Our Guest Reviewers
David Freedman is the show runner for Just Seen It and recently completed his Masters in Film and TV Production at USC. He attended Brandeis University for undergraduate studies in Film Production and Computer Sicence.
"I hate being in front of the camera but I am glad that I got to experience being a movie reviewer at least once - eat the food the I cook - so to speak. My favorite movie is Raiders Of The Lost Ark. I just forgot who and where I was - that is what a movie is supposed to do to you. And always remember, "It's not the years, it's the mileage."
Jami Philbrick is the Managing Editor of iamROGUE.com, Relativity Media's movie news website. He has also written for Wizard and Signature Magazines and Comicbookresources.com.
"My favorite film experience was when I was thirteen and my dad got me out of school early to see Steven Seagal's Out for Justice on opening day. Some of my other favorite movies include Bullitt, Die Hard, The Dark Knight, Apocalypse Now, Fletch, Silverado, and Army of Darkness."
A member of the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. and a 4-time nominee of the Press Award from ICG Publicists Guild, Scott Mantz is the film critic for "Access Hollywood" and a contributor on TVGN's popular "Count It Down" series.
" I live for the movies - always have, always will. My favorite movies of all time are "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Blade Runner," "The Empire Strikes Back," "A Hard Day's Night," "Back to the Future," "Apocalypse Now" and "The Hustler.""
Sasha Perl-Raver's film reviews, celebrity interviews and entertainment reports can be seen on NBC's LA affiliate, KNBC, as well as NBC.com's entertainment blog. She has appeared on E!, TV Guide Channel, LOGO, Style Network, Hallmark Channel, and Fox News.
"One day while I was studying film criticism at USC, a professor explained the biological reason movies have such a transportive effect; because of the flicker between each frame, you are essentially sitting in pitch darkness for 30 minutes in a 90 minute screening and you end up in a dreamy, mediative state because of it, sort of like being hypnotized. Obviously, that was before digital changed the medium, but movies have always had that effect on me and I remain gleefully powerless against it. "
Lisa Mandell Johnson
Film/Television Critic Lisa Johnson Mandell has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times and on NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN and the BBC. Her reviews are currently heard on more than 220 radio stations nationwide.
"I believe that my job as a critic is to help people get maximum enjoyment for their invaluable time and money. A night at the movies these days can cost over $100 for some--it's a big event. But even if you stream a film at home on your laptop, there's still that investment of time that you can never get back. Because of this, I'm committed to sharing the wonder, awe, excitement and art of great film, while steering people clear of entertainment that might disappoint them. And most important of all? NO SPOILERS!
Katherine Tulich has been a film journalist for twenty five years. Based in the US for the past ten years she has contributed regularly to Los Angeles Times, Variety and Washington Post. She appeared on the renowned "At the Movies" TV show as a guest host filling in for Roger Ebert, and was personally asked by Roger to become a contributor for his ongoing site, rogerebert.com.Katherine is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) , the prestigious FIPRESCI ( International board of film critics) and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.