Flashback Friday: Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

When a new and unique character comes along, it can fire up the imagination of the audience. But, by the time the audience gets to the third or fourth outing with this character, it becomes a question of when to move on.

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) is the third film in the Austin Powers trilogy. After Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), our favorite international spy (Mike Myers) must again prevent the world from being destroyed by Dr. Evil (also Mike Myers). This time. travels back to 1975 and pairs up with Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce) to rescue his father, Nigel (Michael Caine) from Dr. Evil and disco kingpin Goldmember (again Mike Myers).

Though the shine is a bit faded from the previous two movies, it still sits comfortably within the world that the audience expects. Beyonce, as usual, excels in the part of Foxxy Cleopatra while giving proper due to the blaxploitation subgenre of the era.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Throwback Thursday: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

For all of the strengths of a superhero, there is a weakness. It is therefore expected that their antagonist will use that weakness against them at some point.

The 1999 film, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is the sequel to Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997). Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) uses a time machine to travel back to the 1960s to steal the mojo of Austin Powers (also Mike Myers). With the help of CIA Agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), Austin has to both save the day and get his mojo back.

I love this movie. Myers took what made the first movie the brilliant comedy that it is and explodes it tenfold. It is quotable, hilarious and one of the most perfect spoofs I’ve ever seen. Though it’s been years since I’ve seen it, I can still quote it.

The only issue is Graham’s character. Though Felicity is on par with Austin both sexually and as an agent of the law, she is also a love interest. Though it is par for the course for female characters, it kind of takes off some of the shine of her badassness for me.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Mrs. Pumphrey

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

I apologize for not posting last weekend. The family came first.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Every town or neighborhood has an older person who might be seen as oddball or weird but is accepted for who they are.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name) Mrs. Pumphrey (first played by the late Diana Rigg and then by Patricia Hodge) is a wealthy widow without children. In place of human descendants is her beloved Pekingese, Tricki Woo. Trickie is one spoiled dog.

This is to the chagrin of James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph), who is referred to as “Uncle James”. He is the veterinarian of choice when it comes to taking care of her furbaby. While James tries to convince Mrs. Pumphrey to feed Trickie healthier food, it takes a while for the suggestion to sink in.

To sum it up: Mrs. Pumphrey may be a little too indulgent of her dog, but it is out of love. She is a generous person who gives to those who she cares for and believes in sharing her emotional wealth with others.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Letitia James and Fani Willis may be the Ones Who Save Us From You Know Who

It has been said that where there is smoke, there is fire. If that is true, there has been smoke coming out of a famous NYC building owned by you know who for a very long time.

Earlier this week, New York state Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James announced that she has filed a lawsuit against he who shall not be named, and his three eldest children. In short, it claims that their namesake organization and its leadership have been committing financial fraud as a standard business model for years.

Of course, his response was a racist slur. Which we have learned over the years is par for the course.

In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has pulled together a grand jury investigation. The purpose is to determine if he and his supporters violated state laws in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election.

Starts at 1:15

As pointed out in yesterday’s episode of the podcast The New Abnormal (which starts at 5:19), both James and Willis are African American women. I think it speaks to where this country is going politically. These women understand that if they don’t stand up for what is right and the rule of law, there is a chance that no one will.

The only way to shut down a bully is to beat them at their own game. The former President is a bully. Until it is made crystal clear that he and his cronies are not above the law, they will continue to act with impunity.

Reasons to Fight For Democracy: The Mass Graves in Ukraine and the Murder of Mahsa Amini

It’s easy to get discouraged about the state of democracy these days. But what we have to remember is that it is worth fighting for.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been going on since the winter. In the liberated city of Izium, mass graves were discovered. So far, the number of bodies is over 400. Many of those killed were civilians and children.

Warning: the images may be distressing.

If this discovery is not enough to the world that Putin must be stopped and forced to stand trial, I don’t know what is. Unless we make it clear that this type of action is unacceptable, it will happen again.

In Iran, Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman, was killed by the morality police. Her crime was supposedly an issue with her headscarf. Since 1979, it has been compulsatory. As a result, protests have broken out. Many women have cut their hair and refused to wear the hijab in response to Amini’s death.

Religion of any kind is all well and good. But when the majority forces their beliefs on the minority and believes that one gender is superior or inferior to another, that is a problem we cannot ignore. If we do, it is at our own peril.

May Mahsa Amini’s memory and the memories of those murdered by Russia since the beginning of the war be a blessing. Z”L.

Her Hidden Genius Book Review

There are some men (both in the past and present) in this world who cannot fathom the idea that a woman can be more than a wife and a mother. When she dares to enter his world, he will do anything in his power to strip away her power and status.

One of these women is Rosalind Franklin. One of the scientists who discovered and published her findings on DNA, her male colleagues claimed her work as their own after her passing. Franklin’s story is told in the new novel Her Hidden Genius. Written by Marie Benedict and published in January, Franklin was ahead of her time. In the years after World War II, the daughter of a respected and wealthy British Jewish family chose work over marriage and motherhood.

Employed by labs in both London and Paris, she was the only female on nearly all-male teams. While working in the UK, three of her male co-workers did everything they could to upstage and unnerve her instead of coming together to reach a common goal.

Benedict does it again. She gives the spotlight to a woman who rightly deserves it. Up until I read this book, Rosalind Franklin was a complete stranger to me. I am thoroughly ashamed that it has taken almost a century for her to be given the credit she is rightly due. The narrative immediately sucked me in. By the time I got to the final page, I felt like I knew her, both a person and a feminist icon.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Her Hidden Genius is available wherever books are sold.

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Flashback Friday: Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003)

The natural evolution of a narrative may seem simple to write. But the truth is that it is not. The next step in the story has to hold onto the characters and narrative while ensuring that it is not forced or outlandish. It becomes more complicated when the original work is respected and appreciated by both fans and critics.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003) is the sequel to Legally Blonde (2001). Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) has a new passion: animal rights. It is so important to her, that she prioritizes the issue over her wedding to Emmett Richmond (Luke Wilson). Arriving in Washington D.C., she turns to Congresswoman Rudd (Sally Field) to help her bring attention to the issue. She also gets help from Sid Post (Bob Newhart), her building’s doorman who provides guidance in how to navigate the figurative power corridors of the city. As in the previous film, Elle is an outsider who is initially judged a pretty blonde with nothing between the ears.

As sequels go, it’s pretty good. The screenplay does not feel like it was being stretched to fit within the world that was created in its predecessor. The film is funny, charming, and Witherspoon again makes us root for an unlikely heroine. The message of not judging a book by its cover is potent, but does not hit the audience over the head. It is a lesson that is forever universal and important.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story Book Review

Politics is not for the faint of heart, especially if you are female. It requires grit, strength, a spine made of steel, and confidence.

Lis Smith has all of these qualities. Despite all of the challenges that have stood in her path, she has somehow been able to make a career out of it. Her new political memoir, Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story, was published in July. The narrative starts in the early 2000s when Smith was a college intern. Taking the reader through the ups and downs of the last twenty-odd years, they are introduced (or re-introduced) to some of the most well-known and controversial political figures of our day.

Throughout the story, Smith is honest about her mistakes, her missteps, and her belief that those in the halls of power can affect greater change for the good.

I really enjoyed the book. Smith not only reveals what happens behind closed doors when the cameras are off, but she is also extremely candid about what she learned along the way.

It is a terrific read for those of us (myself included) who are frustrated with our current legislative climate and want our governmental representatives to do the jobs they were hired to do.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story is available wherever books are sold.

Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble Book Review

Free speech is the cornerstone of any thriving and legitimate democracy. However, there are limits to this concept (i.e., yelling fire in a crowded theater). There are also those who push this concept to the boundaries. Specifically, when using certain language about certain people.

Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble, by Judy Gold, was published in 2020. A respected and award-winning comedian, Gold argues that comedy has no limits and censorship is a harbinger of what could happen when we stop telling the truth via jokes. Using her own background as a Jew, a woman, a mother, and a member of the LGBTQ community, she speaks her truth. Gold also explores how politically speaking, the last few years have challenged us all in terms of what is funny and what crosses the line.

I enjoyed this book. While speaking about and to her fellow comedians, she is not afraid to speak the truth. We live in a country in which comedy is more than subjective. There are many who have drunk the Kool-Aid and will take offense to anything that does not fit into their worldview. Moreover, they are not above using whatever means they have at their disposal to share their opinion.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble is available wherever books are sold.

The Serpent Queen Review

It is a truth universally acknowledged that for most of human history a woman in a seat of power has had a precarious position. She is either beloved (i.e. the recently deceased Queen Elizabeth II) or reviled as a temptress and viewed as unworthy of the title (i.e. Cleopatra).

The new Starz eight-episode miniseries, The Serpent Queen, tells the story of Catherine de Medici. Based on the book Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France, by Leonie Frieda, the first episode tells the story of the French Queen. Played by Samantha Morton, she tells her story to Rahima (Sennia Nanua), a servant girl who has been sent to bring the Queen her dinner. Through backstory, we learn about the young Catherine (Liv Hill) and her traumatic path to the throne.

What I like is that so far, is the younger Catherine breaks the fourth wall. She is also cheeky, intelligent, and driven. As an adult, she is also not above using underhanded methods to retain power.

So far, I have mixed feelings about the series. It’s compelling but has yet to completely suck me in as a viewer. As a character, Catherine breaks the mold in an unsettling way that makes me curious, but also sends warning signs to my brain. This woman is not one to be ignored to taken lightly.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

The Serpent Queen airs on Starz on Sunday at 9PM.

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