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Movie Review Monday: Super 8



Mike Finkelstein likes to make home movies (no, not like Anthony Weiner or Kim Kardashian, you perverts…).  One day, he said he found something on his footage that everyone had to see!  Suddenly, the Air Force arrived at his house and took him away.  That’s the last anyone ever heard from him. I’m sure he’s fine, but just in case, he thankfully left on the computer his review for “Super 8”

PLOT: A group of young friends circa 1979 decide to make a zombie movie to enter in a film competition.  But when they witness a massive train crash that causes people to go missing and the US Air Force to arrive in their small town, they realize they’re caught in the middle of something much deeper, and the answers may be on the footage they caught with their Super 8 camera.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: SUPER 8 was shrouded in mystery for a very long time.  When its viral marketing campaign started, people were wondering…was it the next CLOVERFIELD?  Was it going to be handheld?  What amazing monsters/crazy science fiction was JJ Abrams going to throw in this time?

What a pleasant surprise to see that it was none of that, but something so much more.  We had a small idea of where we were headed when we got the first full length trailer, but it’s really only when you settle into the theater seat and get about ten minutes in that you get this feeling and longing for a better era of movies.

In a time where films are too often mindless and created just for a quick profit, SUPER 8 creates a tribute…a love letter you could say…not only to vintage Steven Spielberg (it’s crazy to say vintage since the time period was the 1980s, but it really is the truth), but to filmmaking in general.  We see Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), a young boy who just lost his mother in a factory accident.  Four months later, his father, the Police Department Deputy, is working constantly to escape his grief (classic Spielberg daddy issues).  Joe spends all his time with his friends, trying to help his one friend, Charles, finish his monster movie for a film competition, all while falling for the ‘lead actress’, Alice (Elle Fanning)

And that is where the heart and soul of the film is.  Forget the monster aspect for a minute.  Forget the aliens and the Air Force and one of greatest crash sequences ever put to film.  This is the coming of age story of these children.  We are brought back into the worlds of such classics as ET, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, and THE GOONIES as the group tries to take care of each other and save each other from what is going on in their small home town, and it is absolutely beautiful.

Now, remember, you wouldn’t be able to have all this if it weren’t for the tween actors.  I dare you to name another movie in the past decade that was so beautiful acted by an ensemble of preteens (and no, I don’t count Miley Cyrus or any Disney brat acting).  Joel Courtney came to Los Angeles to visit his brother, and hopefully land a commercial audition that would get him $100.  He left that state with SUPER 8, and rightfully so.  He has all the emotions and presence of any other actor in that movie, child or adult.  Elle Fanning may only be 13, but the girl definitely has her sister’s talent, especially in one of the more beautiful scenes between her and Courtney, as Courtney watches her act (I couldn’t stop smiling at their cuteness).  I have to mention Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, and Gabriel Basso, because each and every one of them added a layer of friendship and innocence without which this movie wouldn’t have been what it was.  If there is any proof that you are born with talent, it is in this group of six.

As for the man behind it all: JJ Abrams brought us “Lost”  He created a gripping, insane monster movie with CLOVERFIELD, and the best MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE out of the entire series.  The man has a vision for everything he does, and it comes through here as well.  The imagery and landscape is absolutely beautiful, and there are so many storylines to squeeze in, from both Joe and Alice’s fathers’ issues with their kids and each other to all the kids’ relationships, and yet he’s able to do it all without it feeling forced or strained.  Spielberg said in an interview that he feels it isn’t fair that SUPER 8 is being called “Spielbergian”, because this is Abrams’ moment and revelation.  While it may be a testament to Abrams’ talent to get that comparison, Spielberg is still right.

The only minor issues that I would say I had with SUPER 8 had to do with the monster.  I can’t give too much away, but I’ll just say that it seemed too…CLOVERFIELD-ish.  Maybe this was intentional (i.e. INDIANA JONES 4 and the CLOSE ENCOUNTERS aliens), or maybe I’m jaded from seeing CLOVERFIELD, but because of that, I couldn’t feel any remorse.  Add on some pretty violent moments that I don’t think I would have ever expected from ET (hell, they changed out all the guns for walkie-talkies in that one!), and it throws you off a bit.  Was I expecting something cuter?  Not sure.  Was I biased, thinking of it as a Spielberg movie when I shouldn’t have?  Maybe…I just wasn’t expecting something so mean looking.

Overall, though, SUPER 8 delivered big time.  It came a long way from what we originally thought it would be, and that is okay, because it became something so much more.  The young cast is enthralling, the backdrop is beautiful, and we walk out of there wishing that every movie of today would have that same sense of depth and heart.  And while Steven may not want it to be thought of as “Spielbergian”, after watching it, you’ll feel like the film belongs on your shelf right next to ET and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS.


Mike’s LIKES:

1) THROWBACK TO AMBLIN: For anyone who has grown up seeing ET, THE GOONIES and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, this brings you right back with its nostalgia.  This is a love letter to Spielberg, and it’s done magnificently and with the same heart and soul that we experienced twenty years ago.

2) CHILDREN ACTORS: The rule in Holly wood is never to work with animals or children.  Here, we don’t just have children, but five very fine actors who bring some wonderful emotion to their roles.  Each one deserves a mention of their own.

3) SO MANY STORYLINES AND IT ALL FIT: There has been a major problem recently (especially in superhero movies) of overcrowding a film.  Here, it’s actually remarkable how many storylines and side notes are fit in, and each one is given ample time to breathe and be fleshed out.  Only from Spielberg.

4) DAVID GALLAGHER: I knew I recognized him!!  Simon from “7th Heaven” is a pot head, horny hippie!  It’s hilarious!


1) FLESH OUT THE MONSTER: I can’t say much, but let’s just say that with so much back story for the monster, I would have loved to see him with the kids a little more to show a personality.  Also, he looked remarkably close to the CLOVERFIELD alien…

2) GRAPHIC DEATHS: For an Amblin movie with this subject (again, can’t give away much), there were some pretty graphic death scenes in here.  Even I was surprised that it seemed more science fiction than family oriented…


1) This was Joel Courtney’s first acting role.  He traveled to Los Angeles to visit his brother, hoping to get a commercial and $100, and ended up landing this part.

2) Elle Fanning is actress Dakota Fanning’s younger sister.

Editor's Pick

VIDEO:Rolled Ice Cream, Cheetos Bagels And Grasshoppers Are Just Some Of The Unusual Things Brian Balthazar Has Eaten On ‘The Wendy Williams Show’



You’ve seen pop culture expert, Brian Balthazar, appear on The Wendy Williams Show quite a bit over the last few years. He even co-hosted the show on three separate occasions. It wasn’t until his last visit where he and Jason Biggs chowed down on a KFC Cheetos Chicken Sandwich that it hit me: Being on the daytime talk show makes Brian Balthazar hungry!

The proof is in the pudding…pun definitely intended. Carla Hall made sure to bring some snacks for Brian when they cohosted together.

Sure, Wendy is known for telling us to “grab a snack and come on back”…

But you’d have to be absolutely famished to want to eat fish sliders at 10am.

He’s gotten so hungry he resorted to eating GRASSHOPPER TACOS on the show!

Could it be that Brian isn’t actually hungry though? Could he just be a brave soul willing to be the taste tester so we don’t have to? Could my theory be flawed?!

I suddenly feel like maybe we owe Brian a big thanks…

Either way, it’s fun to watch! Click below to take a look at a compilation of all the fun stuff Brian Balthazar has eaten on The Wendy Williams Show!

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Get The Look! A Buyer’s Guide To Brian Balthazar’s Philadelphia Home Redesign



As the world was forced to spend more time at home, Brian Balthazar found himself in a position where he had sold a house before the lockdown and had to find a new one.

“We sold our home with all the furniture in it, so not only did we find ourselves struggling to find a new place, once we found one we didn’t have any furniture to put in it.”

And so, Brian and partner Dennis got resourceful, turning to refurbishing and buying store floor models. They were inspired to make bold, fun choices in color and style when they started shopping around for wallpaper.

Below is the segment as it appeared on the Today Show, and further down, a rundown of where you can find the pieces or ones with a similar look!


Let’s start with the Dining Room!

Move the slider dividing the image to see all of the before or all of the after!

Brian saysThe dining room was the first space we wanted to do. I haven’t had a true dining room since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted a big table for dinner parties! There were no tables within the price range we wanted, so we found a floor model at one of our favorite go-to stores, Arhaus. We easily saved 75 percent on this table by getting the one that they weren’t going to carry anymore. The chairs are from Wayfair.  On each side of the fireplace (not seen in the photo, but visible in the Today Show video) are two black tall lanterns flanking the fireplace. I got them at Target. I can’t currently find them on their app, but similar versions pop up every year. Get thee to Homegoods! Homegoods and Homesense (same parent company) are my go-to spots for home accessories for virtually every room in the house. You never know what you’re going to find, which is part of the fun.

But let’s focus on the real WOW element to this room – the wallpaper! This pattern is called Bellewood, by RebelWalls.   As you will soon see, I’m sort of obsessed with their patterns. To me, this room is magical with the added whimsy of this forest pattern. (They also have a more muted version with grays and even one with blues.) I also love that by hanging the paper from the chair rail up, you almost get the feeling that you’re standing on a balcony overlooking the forest. I surrounded the whole room with this paper, which I love, but you could easily add the same magical feeling by just doing one feature wall. Their website shows how it can translate to a bedroom or office. You might be intimidated by hanging wallpaper but don’t be! This pattern has so much going on that it really looks perfect when it goes up!



Brian says: The guest bedroom is on the top floor of the house, so it’s got roof lines on two sides that make it a tricky space to navigate if you’re not careful. The planning of this space alone resulted in a few bonked heads. On the upside, the wall where the bed goes is tall, so it was an obvious place to create some visual pop. Again, the wallpaper takes the spotlight.  Called “Nude Roses,” also by RebelWalls, I love this design. Floral wallpaper was ‘big’ in popularity back in the 1920s when this house was built, but the patterns at that time were smaller, repeated more often, and were often really bold in color. This interpretation is so fun to me! Gone are the small roses in favor of oversized blooms, and the bold colors are more subdued pink and gray hues, with touches of dark green and creamy whites.

While roses can inherently feel feminine, the plaid bedding (30 dollars for a queen set from Target) are a surprising complement that keeps everything from feeling a little stereotypical. The side tables are mismatched – partly because we didn’t want to go too “matchy=matchy” – but also to save some money – the one on the left side (hard to catch here) was from West Elm. Normally $199, we got it for half off as the floor model. The one on the right we found in the trash. It was perfectly fine, clearly someone had just gotten tired of it! Nothing some disinfectant can’t fix. That gave us some extra money to spend – To reduce the softeness we went with industrial lamps and edison bulbs. The lamps  are called “Ginyard,” from Wayfair. The headboard was on sale at Arhaus. The dark gray takes balances out the pink hues well. The pillows are from Target and Homegoods.

For the 360 degree view of this room, watch the Instagram reel below!  You’ll see the dresser, on sale for $599 from Arhaus, a lamp from Homegoods, and mobiles from Amazon which we fashioned into a ‘piece of art’ that keeps you from hitting your head on the angled wall opposite the bed. Watch the video to check it out!


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A post shared by Brian Balthazar (@brianbalthazar)



Brian says: The idea for the basement game room was to create a space that feels like a lounge you might find if you went out with friends. When you go into this basement it definitely feels like you’ve gone someplace unique! Believe it or not, I found out the Today Show had invited me to to record my house tour just a few days in advance, and so we turned around this spot in just THREE days! There was literally no pool table at the time, (although it had already been scheduled to come on Friday, the wallpaper came on Saturday, (as well as the floor tiles!) and by Sunday we were covered in paint and glue and drinking wine to celebrate it’s completion! I recorded the final video that Monday.

Some people might not think to take a bright basement and make it dark, but that was our first instinct. Clubs are dark and moody, and we wanted this to feel like that. We painted the walls Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore, which is a very dark gray that seems to take on different hues based on where you paint it and the light that shines on it. We painted the ceiling black. This was Thursday night! Then Friday the pool table came. The floor tiles (“Tweed Indeed” in black by Flor) hadn’t arrived until the next day, so when they did arrive I meticulously trimmed four tiles to fit around the pool table legs so it looks like they were there the whole time. I had ordered the pool table online weeks before from and by sheer coincidence it was scheduled to arrive in time for me to shoot the redesign. This was the second time I have ordered a pool table from them (which was initially scary because you’re not even seeing it beforehand!) but it always arrives in perfect condition to your specific selections. I love that the felt jet black and keeps things dark and moody. In the time that has passed since this photo was taken, I’ve added more of the carpet tiles to make the carpeted floor area darker and bigger.

But once again, the wall mural steals the show in a marvelous way! This mural is called “A Priori” from Rebelwalls, and is inspired by The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, a famous fresco by Italian artist Pietro da Cortona. Fitting, because this house is Italian in style on the outside. You can’t see it from this photo but the wallpaper runs up part of the ceiling as well. It truly gives the room a wow factor when you enter it. The lamps are from Homegoods, (we’ve since added some industrial floor lamps for extra mood lighting) and the piano was something we brought with us. The bar tables are from Amazon ($72 each) and the stools we brought with us – they were discards from someone who didn’t like their original bright colors and thought they were dated! We covered them ourselves with gray plaid fabric and they’re better than they were new!


So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the rooms and find something you like!

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The Pentagon Has Released Official UFO Videos Because 2020 Is The Absolute Worst



Aren’t swarms of locusts supposed to be the next installment of this plague?!

Can we finally declare 2020 as the worst year ever? In January there were fears of a third World War. In February the coronavirus began its rapid spread. In March the world essentially shut down due to social distancing and quarantining. And now in April…with only two days left in the month…we have official government footage of unidentified flying objects. I’m sorry but Milton Bradley’s game of “Life” never prepared me for any of this!

The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of three videos that have been circulating the web but didn’t really answer what is visible in them. In the videos, now declassified by the Department of Defense, navy pilots capture “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs! Pentagon officials were sure to state that the videos do not show “any sensitive capabilities or systems,” meaning we probably won’t be seeing any little green men any time soon.

The first video dates back to November 2004 and the other two from January 2015. Of the Pentagon’s confirmation of authenticity, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said the videos were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”

So great. We now know that these strange videos are real but what exactly are we looking at? Well, the Department of Defense says it has no concrete answer as to what might be floating around the skies and has classified the phenomena as “unidentified.” And…just like that I suddenly feel less defended.

Social media is having a field day with this revelation of course. The #AliensAreReal has been trending high on Twitter since the news broke. One user referenced Independence Day and said the aliens are “getting ready for July 4th.” Of the bad timing, another wrote “Et tu aliens?” And finally one user couldn’t help avoid sarcasm and wrote”Where’s the space force when you need it?”

Well 2020, you have worked your awful black magic once again. What’s next, cat videos get banned from the internet?! You’ve taken everything else from us!

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