Stutz Movie Review

Talk therapy is one of the most common forms of working through mental illness. Speaking to a therapist allows one to air their grievances (so to speak) in an emotionally healthy manner.

The new Netflix documentary Stutz is a conversation between actor Jonah Hill and his psychiatrist, Phil Stutz. Over the course of 136 minutes, both men spill their guts (figuratively speaking). Hill talks about being known as a plus-sized actor and the downside of fame. Stutz delves into his past and how his own trauma has gotten him to this point in his life.

This film is fantastic. I loved the honesty of both men. Filmed in mostly black and white, it speaks to the power of the importance of respecting mental health. As someone who has been grappling with it for many years, I related to Hill and his struggles. I also appreciated Stutz’s approach to working with his patients and helping them to achieve their goals.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Stutz is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Sanditon Character Review: Arthur Parker

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

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. 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.

We cannot grow if we sit, both figuratively and literally on our behinds. The only way to make change happen is to take a chance and see what happens. When we first meet Arthur Parker (Turlough Convery), he is a hypochondriac whose favorite activities include eating and drinking. Trying something new or even getting exercise is a rare event in his life. Tied at the hip to his older sister Diana (Alexandra Roach), she encourages his sedentary lifestyle.

The youngest of the Parker siblings, he is not married and has not even considered the subject. When his oldest brother Sidney (Theo James) passes away unexpectedly, Arthur becomes very close to Sidney’s ward, Georgiana Lambe (Crytal Clarke). Both are outsiders and understand what the other is going through. Despite his outward appearance, Arthur is sensible, observant, and emotionally open-hearted.

After Diana’s departure, Arthur starts to become more adventurous. When artist Alexander Lockhart (Alexander Vlahos) comes to town, he instantly becomes friends with Lockhart. Though it is not stated directly, it is implied that he is attracted to Lockhart. When we see him last, Arthur is comforting Georgiana in light of the unsettling revelations of who the artist really is.

To sum it up: Appearances can be deceiving. Though Arthur appears to be the typical plus-sized character who is nothing more than a comedic caricature, he is much more than that. In revealing the whole person, the audience is challenged to see beyond the physique and question if first impressions are accurate.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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 issue I have with the film is two-fold. 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.

There is also Fat Bastard (again, played by Myers). Though I am perfectly aware that this is a satire, I cannot overlook that he is a punchline merely because of his size.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Heated Book Review

In an ideal world, breaking up with one’s significant other would be as straightforward and painless as humanely possible. But that is not always possible.

The new romance novel, Heated, was published in July. Written by Naima Simone, it is the story of an unlikely relationship. Zora is the owner of a unique business. Her clients pay her to inform their soon-to-be exes that their romantic partnership has ended.

The newest breakup that Zora is about to facilitate is with Cyrus, a respected entertainment lawyer. It should be all business and nothing more. But there is something about him that makes him irresistible.

After a difficult childhood, Cyrus has a plan in mind for his future. Everything is laid down in his mind. Nothing and no one can change it. Except for Zora. When he starts to fall for her, he has no idea that she was the conduit for the breakup with his ex.

This book is so hot that I almost needed a fan at certain points. The chemistry between Zora and Cyrus is on fire from the moment they meet. Though the slow burn is a little too slow, the pages were burning up when they finally got together. I loved that Zora is a plus-sized African American woman who is not trying to change who she is to fit in. She owns her identity with a confidence that is refreshing.

I also appreciated that both Cyrus and Zora have emotional baggage that is organic to who they are as people. It’s not forced to create drama for the sake of it. Their damage and the revelation of those scars allow them to heal and find the happiness they both deserve.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Heated is available wherever books are sold.

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The Accidental Pinup Book Review

The image that often comes to mind of a pinup model is a caucasian size 2 female wearing barely there clothing.

The new romance novel, The Accidental Pinup, by Danielle Jackson, was published last month. Cassie Harris loves being behind the camera. Her photography studio, which specializes in creating a modern version of the classic pinup, is doing well. She is ecstatic and more than eager to help her best friend, Dana to launch her lingerie line.

Cassie knows that this campaign will send her career into orbit. But it crashes to Earth before it can get off the ground. Dana is going through a difficult pregnancy and is ordered by her doctor to be on bed rest. Adding insult to injury, she is asked to be the model, not the photographer. Taking the pictures is Reid Montgomery, a professional rival with whom she has never got along with.

Though Cassie is far from the typical model (being a plus-sized African-American woman), she agrees to take Dana’s place. The problem is not what she is wearing, it is the fact that Reid will be the one taking the pictures.

As they begin to work together, their working relationship turns into something more. But a secret on Reid’s part may end both the romantic and professional relationship may end before it has a chance to begin.

This book is so good. The fact that this is Jackson’s debut novel just blows me away. I loved Cassie as a heroine. She is everything I want in a romantic comedy leading lady. I love her brain, I love her heart, and I love that she looks like many of the readers.

Though the narrative is typical, it was not super predictable. It is in fact, one of my favorite books that I have read so far this year.

It is spicy, sexy, romantic, and the perfect summer read.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Accidental Pinup is available wherever books are sold.

If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series) Book Review

At its heart, Cinderella is the story of finding the good in life and rising about the shit that fate has sent our way.

If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series), by Julie Murphy, was published last year. Cindy Woods is a plus-sized recent college graduate. After spending the last four years in New York City, her career path is stuck in first gear. With no other options, she returns to Los Angeles and her childhood home. She is welcomed with open arms by her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, and her stepsisters.

Cindy is a fashion fanatic. Due to her size, finding the latest and greatest clothing that fits her has always been a problem. When Erica’s Cinderella‘s themed reality dating show, Before Midnight (a la The Bachelor), is down a contestant, Cindy agrees to step in. It was supposed to be a way of getting her designs noticed. It also doesn’t hurt that the guy at the center of the program is good-looking.

Instead of quietly staying in the background, Cindy becomes a fan favorite. She also starts to fall for the guy. She will have to take a jump into the unknown, not knowing if it will end in heartbreak or a happy ending.

I loved this book. Murphy pays homage to the 1950 animated Disney film while writing her own story. In another narrative, Cindy would either have to lose weight to achieve her goals or be forced into the fat and funny sister/best friend role. The cherry on top for me is that Cindy is not looking for a man, her priority is her professional future.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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