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Movie Review: Puncture

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Mike Finkelstein wants to believe he has the courage to lose for what’s right.  Michael Weiss did.  Here is his review for “Puncture”.

PLOT: A drug-addicted lawyer (Chris Evans) and his partner (Mark Kassen) try to take on a negligent pharmaceutical company when the find out it will not allow the distribution of a prick-proof needle that could save millions around the world.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  We’ve all seen stories like this before: David vs. Goliath with corporations.  Most of the time, it’s versus big tobacco (RUNAWAY JURY, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING), or health care and pharmaceutical companies (JOHN Q).  This time, though, the protagonist isn’t just the little guy…he’s a little guy with a major problem.  And on top of that, it’s all true.  That is the ace up the sleeve of Adam and Mark Kassen’s new film, PUNCTURE.

Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) is a young Houston lawyer who owns a mom-and-pop personal injury law firm with his straight-laced college best friend.  He is also a functioning drug addict.  In his personal life, he is undependable (doesn’t show up to support his firm partner), irresponsible (his wife leaves him because of all his demons) and you name the drug, he smokes/snorts/shoots/ingests it.  But with all that baggage in his corner, he is a legal genius.  It doesn’t matter how high he is.  His mind is sharp, he is focused, and he is fixated on proving what he believes is right.  So when a woman contacts his firm to go after a negligent pharmaceutical company after she was pricked by a contaminated needle on the job, tearing down the big guys becomes his newest obsession.

Before anything, I have to note that Chris Evans plays Mike Weiss beautifully.  While he still may not be flexing his muscles when it comes to emotional range, the man had all the twitches of someone with a drug problem, and pretty much carried the entire movie.  He was distracted, yet focused, exhausted yet wired, and in two key scenes, he really showed the potential of what he has in his arsenal. To have a summer where you could play the perfect American (oh, Captain…) and be a disturbed junkie in an indie film is rare.  Evans did it, and I look forward to seeing him do much more (especially with range) in the future.

Now back to the film.

My biggest problem with legal thrillers is, no matter who is cast, it is very easy for them to fall into a basic structural hole.  PUNCTURE does this on many levels.  We have our small firm going up against the big corporations.  We have our best-friend partner, Paul  (Mark Kassen) begging the rogue lawyer to stop chasing the case.  We have the rogue lawyer/flawed hero (Chris Evans), who, despite his defects, will never give up because this case is about what’s right.  As a legal thriller standing on its own, there really isn’t anything too special going on.  It’s the same old story.

But as I said, PUNCTURE has a big ace up its sleeve.  It is based on a true story, and its goal is more than just entertainment.  This film has the courage to draw attention to a subject that’s a major issue in today’s society, and is a dedication to a very real man who tried to do everything in his power to make things right.  It may be dramatized, but to imagine that there really was a functioning drug addict named Michael Weiss who went through all of what he did for justice, and to know that his best friend wrote the first draft of this film for him…it adds that extra layer that is so desperately needed in an otherwise mediocre film.

It also didn’t help that Mark Kassen casted himself as the best friend.  Granted, he and his brother did a good job at directing, but I don’t think Kassen did Danzinger any justice.  He and Weiss were best friends since college, yet he seemed almost uncomfortable around him, like it was a stranger instead of an old friend.  There were no varying emotions as he watched Weiss spiral and lose all the firm’s money, and he basically came across as a one-dimensional winy wife figure.  All Paul was there for was to be the resistance to Mike, and I feel like he should have been a lot more.  But again, I’ve seen a lot worse.

While there may not be anything extraordinary happening in PUNCTURE, it is still a satisfactory legal thriller with an intriguing story, an up-and-coming actor going completely against type, and more than anything, a message.  Accidental needle pricking spreading disease is a major problem for nurses.  There really are safety syringes that could stop all accidental pricks of nurses in hospitals, and yet, unsafe needles are still used constantly in hospitals around the country and world.  This is not just some random fiction, but a true story with real people.  And hopefully, despite all its flaws, that little bit will help it rise above all the rest of its legal counterparts, and get into some homes and brains with it’s statement.

GRADE: B

Mike’s LIKES:

1) CHRIS EVANS: While I’m still not sold on his acting range just yet (still too down the middle for me), Evans impressed me in two key scenes.  He delivered with all the twitches and signs of an addict, giving a complete 180 from Steve Rogers.  You have to hand it to him.

2) ATTENTION TO A GOOD CAUSE: Needle pricking in hospitals and in 3rd world countries is a huge problem that many people would have never known about if it weren’t for this movie.  I commend the Kassen brothers and Paul Danziger for drawing attention to it.

3) DEMONS: It’s amazing how a man could have so many demons and hide them so well…

4) “THE COCAINE UNDER YOUR NOSE”: A great line and a very dramatic moment.

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) MARK KASSAN: While he and his brother crafted a very good film, Kassan didn’t deliver for me in the acting department.  He made Danziger come off not as a best friend from college, but as a one-dimensional winy wife figure.  All Paul was there for was to be the resistance to Mike, and I feel like he should have been a lot more.  What happened to the guy who had the courage to write this screenplay in the first place about his best friend?  What happened to all that emotion and depth?

EXTRA FACTS:

1) The real Paul Danziger wrote the first draft of the script, himself.  After Mark and Adam Kassen agreed to take on the project, Chris Lopata was brought in to rewrite.

2) The film was selected by the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival to serve as one of the spotlight premiere features in the lineup.

 

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Who Is This Brian Balthazar Guy, Anyway?

Did you see Brian on TV today? Wondering who he is? Here’s much more than you wanted to know. They leave the part out that he loves a well mixed Dark And Stormy, but let’s keep things professional…

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You may have seen Brian Balthazar on television this morning, heard him on the radio, or read about some recent developments in the world of media and pop culture. But who the hell is this guy? Brian Balthazar leads a double – triple – okay, maybe quadruple life. Part journalist, actor and comic, he appears on many TV shows as a guest, but is also a developer and creator of several television shows behind the scenes. This when he’s not renovating homes and making snacks for his websites, POPgoesTheWeek.com and Snackist.com.

After launching the fourth hour of the Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, he turned his attention to cable television, overseeing the direction and development of several shows on HGTV, including Flip or Flop, Love It Or List It, Christina On The Coast, House Hunters, Hit Properties with Nathan Morris, Flea Market Flip and dozens more.

As a comic he served as the opening act for Russell Brand In New York City and the MTV series Man and Wife featuring hype man Fatman Scoop.  He has performed at The Comic Strip, Caroline’s On Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club and more.Wendy Williams Show Feb 2013

In addition to being a frequent guest on “The Wendy Williams Show,” (he co-hosted several times during Williams’ three week break) and appearing on the “Today” show, where he guest co-hosted with Jenna Hager-Bush,  Brian has frequently been seen co-hosting the syndicated TV gossip show Page Six TV.

Additionally, he was the sideline reporter for HGTV’s Rose Parade Coverage, hosted the HGTV Special I Bought A Famous House, and has appeared on CBS’s The Talk, HLN’s Showbiz Tonight, MSNBC’s Caught On Camera, The Joy Behar Show, and more.

Brian Balthazar Kathie Lee Hoda

An appearance on the fourth hour of the TODAY show with Kathie Lee and Hoda.

He has also been an emcee for many notable events and sponsors, including work as a brand ambassador for Bombay Company, the co-host of the Miss Tennessee and Miss Mississippi USA pageants, and a red carpet host at the Daytime Emmy Awards.

You may also have seen Brian in some viral videos, most notably a recent parody of Bird Box, and a satirical look at House Hunters’ Writers’ Room.

HGTV – House Hunters Writer’s Room from Buffalo Picture House on Vimeo.

 Brian Balthazar Bombay

Appearing in a series of videos for Bombay Company.

 

Brian has provided analysis, interviews and helped co-host the Tony Awards backstage show. He also followed all the backstage madness at the launch of Fashion Week in New York City while co-hosting the Red Dress Event. He has been a roving reporter for the Dr. Oz show. Earlier in his career he was a features reporter and contributor on NBC, MSNBC, United Airlines In-Flight Entertainment and more.

For A&E network, Brian appeared in an episode of Biography about Jim Carrey. He also provided play by play of some of film’s greatest car chases for a documentary about, well, car chases. (Ask his family and they will tell you: NO one would have expected to see him in a show about cars. We’ll leave it at that.)

Pat-Benatar-Splash

Before ‘finding himself’ professionally, Brian was a singer on a ship, a publicist for a trance medium, an insurance customer service rep, waiter, bartender, activities director, substitute teacher, website programmer, pianist at a camp for spoiled children, and college mascot. None of them worked out. Let’s hope this does.

To contact Brian, email BrianBalthazar@aol.com.

To check out his video clips from NBC, HLN, and MSNBC, click HERE…

And – become his friend on facebook! www.facebook.com/brianbalthazar

For a more extensive listing of his TV appearances visit his IMDB page.

And he’s apparently getting better about Twitter. So he says. He’s @BrianBalthazar.

Thanks for reading POP GOES THE WEEK!

For his TV Appearances, Click on the TV APPEARANCES page.

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POP in the Kitchen! The Perfect Snack and Cocktail Pairings.

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POP Goes The Week’s Brian Balthazar is part of the all new Food Network Kitchen App! Cook LIVE alongside Brian as he makes get party food and the drinks that go perfectly with them!

Hey everyone! I’m so excited for this – I was thrilled to be a part of the new app, which is an all new way to cook with your favorite chefs and cooking experts. In the app, you can get the recipe and ingredients and recipe in advance, check the live class schedule, then cook at the very same time as your instructor!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to do a live snack and cocktail pairing, which you can still watch – and cook along with me! Trust me, these all start out as live, which means anything can happen! (I have an adventure with the broiler in one of them!)

Download the app here.

For my recipes, I made a pulled pork toast with queso, sour cream radishes and green onions, along with a smoky mezcal paloma.

Pulled Pork Toasts with Sour Cream, Queso, Radishes and Green onions, garnished with cilantro. The recipe is literally those ingredients stacked onto baguette slices!

In another class, I make lavender honey that gets drizzled right on top of baked brie with herbs, then use that same lavender honey for my own interpretation of a “Bees Knees” cocktail that I call a “Bees Knees Breeze.” I came up with the variation because the original recipe, simply gin, honey and lemon was just TOO strong for me and I found myself always getting plastered!

Check out the gallery of what I made, all available on the FNK app!

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I hope you can check them out, AND all your favorite instructors like Bobby Flay, Giada de Laurentiis and Ree Drummond!

 

 

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‘Saved By The Bell’ Cast Reunited For 30th Anniversary – And I’m So Excited

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If you think your high school experience feels like ancient history then it won’t bring you any comfort to know that Saved By The Bell debuted 30 years ago!

Back in 1989, Saved By The Bell hit the small screen and quickly became a television staple. Over the course of its four seasons, the sitcom followed Zach Morris and his unique blend of friends as they navigated the tricky waters of high school. Everyone had a favorite Bayside Tiger and the series spawned many memorable scenes…but you are a liar if you didn’t say your favorite scene was where Jessie broke down crying after coming to terms with her caffeine pill addiction while crying out the most iconic line ever, “I’m so excited…I’m so excited…I’m so…scared”

 

In any event, some of Bayside’s most memorable students reunited over the weekend to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the hit sitcom. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zach Morris), Tiffany Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski), Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) and Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano) all gathered together to hit us right in the nostalgia. Notably missing were Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) and Dustin Diamond (Screech). Berkley wrote on her Instagram “FRIENDS FOREVER!!!” along with some sweet and fun hashtags. Lopez upped the ante and posted a video recapping the fun time the gang had as they reminisced on the days way back when. WHY WASN’T THIS TELEVISED?!? Many are speculating the reunion to be the beginnings of a reboot or revival but nothing of the sort has yet been confirmed.

 

 

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FRIENDS FOREVER #spousestoo!!!❤️❤️❤️#imsoexcited #buddybands #love #friends #family #life #magic

A post shared by Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (@elizberkley) on

 

 

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Credit card roulette comin up! #OldSchool

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