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Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Mike Finkelstein just saw the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy. He was so excited, he decided to run through lower Manhattan in his Batman pajamas. Adam West soon joined him. Here is his review of “The Dark Knight Rises”.



Mike Finkelstein just saw the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy.  He was so excited, he decided to run through lower Manhattan in his Batman pajamas.  Adam West soon joined him.  Here is his review of “The Dark Knight Rises”.

PLOT: It has been eight years since the death of Harvey Dent, and the city of Gotham is thriving under a new criminal law passed in his name.  Batman has completely disappeared after being labeled Dent’s killer and menace to society, and without his alter-ego, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a lonely recluse looking for a purpose.  But when a new threat arrives in the form of an exiled, carnage hungry League of Shadows member too dangerous for even Ra’s Al-Ghul, it is time for Batman to return and save the city of Gotham from its greatest threat yet.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  Here it is.  The final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy.  Ever since we walked out of the theater during the midnight showings of THE DARK KNIGHT, we’ve been waiting to see what Christopher Nolan would bring us next.  He already created a comic book universe unprecedented in film…could he possibly finish off the trilogy in a way that would do justice to not only Bruce Wayne and Batman, but all the fans waiting for nothing short of perfection?

While it may have only been three years since THE DARK KNIGHT, eight years have passed in Gotham City.  Batman is a fugitive, blamed for basically all the chaos the Joker created, including the death of Gotham’s D.A., Harvey Dent.  Bruce Wayne, still mourning over not only the loss of Rachel Dawes, but of his alter-ego, has all but given up on the outside world, and instead spends his time as a recluse in Wayne Manor.

When Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) is critically injured in a sewer attack, word comes that a new army is developing underneath the streets of Gotham.  Led by a villainous mercenary named Bane (Tom Hardy), a creature so threatening and powerful, he had to be excommunicated from the League of Shadows, the army has only one goal: fulfill Ra’s Al-Ghul’s mission to destroy the filth that is Gotham City, and crush the spirit of its 12 million souls in the process.

It is safe to say that Christopher Nolan has given us, by far, the best possible finale he could have made.  Just like THE DARK KNIGHT before it, we start with a rousing, pulse pounding introduction to our star villain that can only be described as one of the best hijack scenes put to film.  And while there are a few lulls afterwards as we are reintroduced to Bruce Wayne (it’s a three-hour movie…what do you expect?), when the mask and cape finally appear, you realize that what you’re watching is the definition of a blockbuster, with every chase, brawl, and battle leaving you breathless.

Don’t get me wrong…there is nothing wrong with a reintroduction.  The real story here is not about Gotham or its people…it’s about Bruce.  And while the man may have gone through a lot over the past two movies, it is here that he goes through the wringer both physically and emotionally.  Nolan’s writing challenged Christian Bale to go to a completely other level this time around, ranging from a man who feels like he has nothing left, to a man who feels like he has everything to lose.  Bale rises to the challenge beautifully, taking us with him the entire way until we finally end with both he and the audience physically and mentally exhausted.

None of those emotions could have been felt, however, if it weren’t for Nolan’s choice of baddie.  Heath Ledger’s Joker was a methodical, twisted challenge for Bruce Wayne’s mind, while Tom Hardy’s Bane is nothing but brute force.  Yes, Bane knows what he is doing (and manipulates beautifully), but let’s focus on the real threat: he can rip Batman in two without a care in the world.  Even though Hardy’s face is covered for 99.99% of the movie, you could see the ruthlessness in his eyes, feel his maniacal supremacy by a slight touch of his hand, and hear the power in his calm, almost numbing voice. The Joker may still be the peak of the series, but the contrast between the two allows Hardy to stand out and get his due, which is greatly deserved.

As for the rest of the new supporting cast, there are not enough words.  Anne Hathaway is the sexiest Catwoman/Selena Kyle put to screen yet, easily switching from whatever façade she wants to put on to a sultry and very cunning little thief.  She is a worthy adversary/partner to Batman (depending on what‘s best for her at the moment), and shows us the depth the character needed to survive in Nolan’s universe.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings a fresh innocence to Gotham as the young “hothead” John Blake, and Marion Cotillard is beautiful and charming as always in her role as Gotham philanthropist Miranda Tate.  The usual suspects—Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman—also return in their respective roles (along with two nice surprise visits…), but sadly, our time spent with Alfred and Lucius Fox are cut pretty short this time around.

Now while I said Nolan gave us the best possible finale he could have made, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a nice amount of issues and inconsistencies to go with it.  Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that Nolan took a lot of liberties with what everyone was doing during the countdown to Gotham’s destruction.  Add onto that some very heavy political undertones (I don’t go to see Batman for political commentary), and some loopholes that Nolan should be better than, and you have to wonder why, for such a highly anticipated film, such issues couldn’t have been cleaned up more.  Luckily, the characters, action, cinematography, and score all overshadow any flaws, leaving us all with a slightly bad aftertaste, and nothing more.

It is safe to say that Christopher Nolan has done the impossible.  With nothing but a metaphorical pen and paper (aka complete creative control with no studio interference), the man has created a very satisfying conclusion for Bruce Wayne, Batman, and Gotham.  While it may have a few flaws (a factor that is very common when we hit the third film in a series), beautiful character development, obscenely intense action sequences, stunning visuals (especially with over an hour shot in IMAX), and a score that makes your blood pump just a bit quicker per second makes THE DARK KNIGHT RISES not only an action packed thrill ride for comic book movies, but an epic finale to arguably the greatest superhero trilogy of all time.


Mike’s LIKES:

1) MOST EMOTIONAL BATMAN YET: Christian Bale gives his all, both mentally and physically, this time around.  You see the fear and pain in his eyes, whether it be because of Rachel, Bane, or his city being destroyed.  You almost can’t go five minutes without feeling the emotion, and I loved every second of it.

2) BANE AND CARNAGE: The Joker may have been the mental challenge for Bruce Wayne, but Bane is the physical.  Nothing but sheer ferocious carnage, the power behind those fists (almost like cement blocks coming down on you), and the brute force that Bane uses against his enemies and anyone that crosses his path leaves us breathless. Tom Hardy did a beautiful job in the role, giving us so much fear with just his eyes and one hell of a voice.

3) ACTION PACKED FINALE: While there may have been a lull in the first hour, the last 45 minutes do not let up.  The fists and bullets fly and the explosions ring out, all culminating in a final ten minutes that’ll stop your heart cold.

4) SUPPORTING CAST: All the rookies, from Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Marion Cotillard, were perfectly cast, and despite initial worries, Anne Hathaway was the perfect Catwoman.  All the returning players delivered yet again as well.

5) FINAL TEN MINUTES: I will not give anything away, but as I said in number three, the final ten minutes of the film deliver the perfect conclusion to the Batman trilogy…exciting, emotional, and satisfying in every way.


1) POLITICAL UNDERTONES: I could have done without the political messages floating throughout this entry.  We have so many art forms and people speaking out against the 1%…I really didn’t need to hear about it during my Batman movie.

2) SOME MAJOR INCONSISTANCIES: As previously mentioned, there were some areas that required some major questioning from its audience.  Nothing was too drastic enough to destroy the entire film, but it definitely knocked it down a peg.

3) ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD: Again, I won’t give anything away, but I find it ridiculous that Gotham is going to be gone soon, and Bruce Wayne still has time to shave and do some arts and crafts.


1) Cinematographer Wally Pfister wanted to shoot the entire film in the IMAX format.  Due to IMAX cameras being too noisy for dialogue scenes, he and Nolan ultimately shot about 50 minutes of IMAX footage, the most incorporated into any film so far.

2) Gary Oldman stated that Christopher Nolan told the actors the ending of the film verbally to avoid any leaks.

3) Christopher Nolan wanted Marion Cotillard so much for the role of Miranda Tate that he modified the filming schedule to accommodate her pregnancy.

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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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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