Underground Film Journal

Posted In » Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

It’s been awhile since a movie review has been posted to the Underground Film Journal. Really, updates to the site this entire summer have been sporadic at best. Which is kind of odd since I work on the damn thing almost every day.

But in this crazy electronic world the temptation is to go beyond the traditional text-based pages and get fancy and creative with the graphics and the interactivity. Writing is hard enough, selecting and crafting the perfect words and phrases to convey coherent ideas. However, it’s a toss-up as to what is more labor intensive: Fingers clacking away on a keyboard or using a mouse to manipulate the individual pixels of a PhotoShop image.

The look of the Underground Film Journal

has changed several times over the past couple months. Sometimes that entailed major reorganization and other times only minute changes to design elements. We now feature a semi-animated comic strip and have just premiered our new “cyber-novel”, of which Chapter One consists of a single image. But to get to that image, weeks of exploring the ins and outs of PhotoShop and making extensive practice images had to come before getting to the final product.

Today, writing seems like a simple pleasure. It’s a basic extension of thought, a mild variation on speaking. Not that it’s necessarily easy, but it’s less physically intensive than drawing or image manipulation. Once the original idea is conceptualized there are relatively few steps to get to the final essay or story. But that’s where the problem lies in writing this particular essay.

The movie reviews on the Underground Film Journal haven’t been infrequent because I haven’t been going to the movies. I’ve seen three in just over a week. However, when it comes to writing about AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME, what am I supposed to say?

AUSTIN POWERS was beyond mindless entertainment, but that’s exactly what Mike Meyers was going for and he’s a master at his craft. The movie is just plain out-and-out stupid and extremely funny. He seems to be a pretty smart guy, but when he wants to entertain people he goes about it the cheapest way possible, culturally speaking. The film is a pleasant diversion and excellent escapist fare.

So, essentially I could stop this review right here because I’m completely bored discussing the film. It’s a non-essential use of my time and mental abilities.

This has been a pretty mindless review and if you want to get back to your life now, you can click off this page now. However, if you want to read something interesting I’m providing for you an email I received recently.

I’m on a mailing list for Project Censored that updates me on news stories that are not dealt with by the mainstream press. We’ve all heard about the war in Kosovo and the horrible, but “necessary”, bombings we did, but here’s another perspective on the mess:

Untold Stories of U.S./NATO’s War and U.S. Media Complacency

By Peter Phillips

Director of Project Censored

The mainstream media in the United States were aware that the Pentagon and NATO were releasing biased and false information regarding the war in Kosovo yet they continued to pass on the information to the American public as if it were gospel.

“…the media were once more asked to sort out a few kernels of facts from a barrage of distortions and half-truths from government information manipulators… baloney-ladened military briefings in Brussels… cryptic shows at the Pentagon,” reports Senior correspondent for Newsday’s Washington Bureau, Patrick Sloyan. Writing in June’s American Journalism Review, Sloyan went on to describe how the elite of U.S. media complained to President Clinton, but failed to use their power to challenge the government.

That the U.S. Military and NATO kept the American public propagandized and ignorant about our most recent war is a well known fact among mainstream

correspondents. Foremost in the undercovered or ignored categories, but widely covered in Europe, were:

extensive civilian deaths (2,000+);

massive damage to non-military civilian facilities in Serbia;

the use of illegal cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions;

Devastating environmental pollution was created by the bombing and burning of refineries and chemical plants.

The deliberate destruction of public utilities left many Serbians without power, water and heating. Yet the Pentagon persisted in saying they were attacking only legitimate military targets. How could all of this massive civilian destruction just be collateral damage? Why was a public television station considered a legitimate military target?

According to the London Daily Telegraph of July 22, 1999, “NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia had almost no military effect on the regime of President Milosevic.”

Based on a NATO inquiry the bombing “failed to damage the Yugoslav field army tactically in Kosovo while the strategic bombing of targets such as bridges and factories was poorly planned and executed.” The U.S. bombed cardboard tanks, wooden missile carriers, and phony blackened roads wasting thousands of tons of bombs on false targets.

The French Le Nouvel Observatoeur in Paris (7/1/99) described how NATO initially thought that two days of bombing would be enough and that Milosevic would capitulate quickly. But as the bombing dragged on the U.S. began hitting targets not envisaged by NATO plans. A senior French military official was quoted as saying, “The USAF refused to abide by phase one, two and three. It intended to hit military and political targets everywhere.”

Another French official added, “We were on a the verge of an open clash with Washington.”

Widely reported in Europe was the fact that twenty high-ranking judges of the Greek Council of State openly condemned the NATO attacks calling them violations of international law, and polls showed that in Greece 95% of the people opposed the bombings. NATO forces were repeatedly hindered as they passed through Greek soil. An exemplary case was how Greek resisters changed the road signs in Thessaloniki so that a convoy of NATO armored-vehicles lost its way and ended up in a vegetable market of the town instead of at the Greco- Macedonian border. (Dimitris Psarras, Athens)

The U.S. government felt that foreign press coverage was so out of control that it became necessary to permanently create a new International Public Information Group (IPI), made up of top military, diplomatic and intelligence officials, to coordinate U.S. resources to “influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.” (Washington Times 7/28/99) This new IPI organization will attempt to squelch or limit uncomplimentary stories regarding U.S. activities and policies reported in the foreign press. IPI is de facto censorship as it will use governmental resources to repress foreign news stories that may reach the American public.

The U.S. government already uses private public relations consultants to spin and distort news stories on a daily basis to favor specific ideological perspectives. How far will the mainstream media in the U.S. be willing to go in ignoring this issue?

How can we conclude that the mainstream media are free, when they give us unsubstantiated horror stories of rape camps, massacres, and a possible 100,000 Albanians missing, while the military was racking up Serbian civilian targeting and keeping our allies in the dark?

Where was investigative reporting, where was the public’s right to know? Has corporate media abdicated its responsibility to the First Amendment?

Only a strong system with internal checks and balances in mainstream media will protect the public’s interests. Diversity of news sources (both foreign and domestic), ombudsman, and reporters with tenure rights are needed in the media today to counterbalance governmental spin doctors and the media elite’s self interests. Anything less means a continued deterioration of informational freedom in the United States.

(If you want to find out more about Project Censored, check out their website.)