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Movie Review: Drive



Mike Finkelstein will give you five minutes of his time.  No more, no less.  Within those five minutes, anything you need from him is yours.  Afterwards, you’re on your own.  So within that span of time, he thinks you could sit down and read his review of “Drive”.

PLOT: A Hollywood stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) doubles as a getaway wheel man at night.  When he gets involved with his beautiful neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her son, he decides to try and help her fresh out of jail husband (Oscar Issacs) on a high-risk job that pits him against two ruthless mob bosses (Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks).

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  “I don’t sit in.  I don’t carry a gun.  I drive.”

These are the words that introduce us to the Driver in Nicolas Winding Refn’s DRIVE.  It’s that simple.  Going into the movie, I knew it’d be something different…a noir film about driving (interesting contrast to say the least), as well as Ryan Gosling’s next branch out from his usual dramas after CRAZY, STUPID LOVE.

DRIVE is so much more than just Ryan Gosling branching out.  It is, I dare say, a masterpiece of film noir.  You see the world, you take in the atmosphere, you know something is going to happen at SOME point and are looking for it…and then you get slapped in the face.

Our focus is on a nameless character only known as the Driver (Ryan Gosling).  He is a Hollywood stunt man who doubles as a getaway driver.  He gives you five minutes of his time, no more, no less (and he has a watch fastened to the steering wheel to prove his point), makes sure you’re safe, and then walks away. He is a loner.  His only outside connection is to his boss and partner-in-crime…a crippled, fatherly mechanic (Bryan Cranston) who wants him to use his skills as a stock car driver.

Suddenly, our loner meets the beautiful girl next door, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her son.  With barely any words being said, you see the connection, but the Driver doesn’t dare make the tiniest move, because she still has a husband in jail.   Don’t get me wrong…it isn’t a fear thing.  It’s just that the Driver is as respectful as a boy scout.  But he cares about them so much, that when the husband gets out and needs to pull one final job to make sure his family isn’t harmed, he offers his help.

DRIVE is downright romantic with its slow burn.  We begin on a high with a slight, very exciting taste of the Driver’s capabilities, and then we retreat to the comfortable darkness and solitude.  Layers upon layers are slowly built with every character around him.  All of it is surrounded by the city of Los Angeles, which becomes a character in itself, painted with every bit of grittiness and seediness one could possibly squeeze out, and accompanied by a soundtrack of synthesizers and techno pop that could only be compared to something David Lynch would play.  It is nothing short of gorgeous.

And then, all hell breaks loose.  What was a slow, smooth ride with a breeze through these peoples’ lives becomes a six car pile up, and you feel Every. Single. Crash.  We get violent.  Very violent.  It’s neither over the top and ridiculous, nor fake and cheesy.  It’s real and tasteful, and gratuitous when necessary.  You have no idea what is going to happen, and if you think you have any clue, you’ll start to panic again once you realize that this isn’t your normal Hollywood flick.  Every piece of action/violence so far snuck up on you like a ghost, and anyone, including our loveable Driver, could die in an instant.

Ryan Gosling is mesmerizing as the nameless Driver.  The man has done plenty of drama, showed he could handle comedy, and now we know he could be a subtle action star.  I don’t know how he would have faired in a big budget epic where he’d have to chew the scenery, but here, he oozes Steve McQueen cool, and his quiet, reserved nature lends itself to the character, (very reminiscent of a young Sean Penn).  But that doesn’t mean the Driver can’t rev up a bit.  We keep getting glimpses of the Driver in his rear mirror, as if it’s a window to something deeper.  Turns out, we’re right.  When someone threatens the people he cares about, the Driver and his morals come completely unraveled.  I don’t know if it was anger or nervousness, but you could almost see his mind snapping in one scene by the way he was shaking.

While Gosling was gripping in the lead, he also had a hell of a supporting cast backing him up.  Carey Mulligan was beautiful and innocent (as always) as the quiet, nervous Irene.  Bryan Cranston continued his streak with excellent supporting character roles as the crippled, riddled by back luck Shannon.  Ron Perlman had some fun chewing the scenery and memorably spitting out curse after curse as the ruthless mobster, Nino.  And Christina Hendricks, while somewhat wasted in such a small part, did what she had to do as Blanche, the in-between for the final job.

But the one man that stole every scene he was in was Albert Brooks as the main baddie, Bernie Rose.  While Perlman was the over-the-top, no sympathy mobster, Brooks was the businessman.  He is rational and compassionate, but if he realizes that he has to, he will kill you in a split second, and gruesomely.  This is not the same Albert Brooks in LOST IN AMERICA and FINDING NEMO, and his simplicity and logical nature makes the role even scarier and more memorable than Perlman’s.  Amazing job.

Nicolas Winding Refn’s DRIVE is a visual masterpiece.  With it’s slow burn first half leading into chaos, the film will keep you on your toes from beginning to end.  Every actor is at the top of their game, and if you find a better, darker, more original gripping film this year, I dare you to say it.


Mike’s LIKES:

1) RYAN GOSLING: I’m starting to think this man could play anything.  He’s been only in serious dramas up until this point, and within the last six months, has delivered in both one of the funniest comedies of the year, and a full on action, film noir style.  I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do.

2) ALBERT BROOKS: This man is not Albert Brooks, the comedian we all know and love.  He is ruthless.  He is violent.  And with all that, he is completely sane and knows exactly what he is doing.  He doesn’t overact or chew the scenery.  He just is.  And that makes him all the more intimidating.

3) GRITTY FILM NOIR: Nicolas Winding Refn did a beautiful job in bringing out all the dirt and seediness of Los Angeles.  Not the town I’d ever want to live in.

4) SUSPENSE/VIOLENCE: What was at first a slowly paced ride built and built, and then all at once exploded into a violent bloodbath.  It was almost like two separate films, and by the last half hour, I honestly had no idea who would live and who would die.


1) DON’T HAVE ONE: The film is smart and original with a cast that gel perfectly together.  I was engrossed in the world of the Driver.  When a film can do that to me, and I don’t know where it’s going, it did its job perfectly.


1) In preparation for the role, Ryan Gosling restored the 1973 Chevy Malibu that his character uses in the film.

2) Hugh Jackman was original supposed to star as the lead.


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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