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Movie Review: Argo

Mike Finkelstein has always known that truth is stranger than fiction…how else could he explain his life so far? But that belief was just proven yet again when he went to the movies one day, and saw just how far one CIA operation went to get back their men. Here is his review of “Argo”.

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Mike Finkelstein has always known that truth is stranger than fiction…how else could he explain his life so far?  But that belief was just proven yet again when he went to the movies one day, and saw just how far one CIA operation went to get back their men.  Here is his review of “Argo”.

PLOT: During the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the American Embassy is overrun and 52 Americans are taken hostage.  Six US diplomats, however, manage to escape and make their way to the home of the Canadian Ambassador.  But when the Ambassador and the US Government start to realize that time is quickly running out until the group is found and the Ambassador is punished, it’s up to CIA ex-filtration specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to get everyone out alive.  His plan—the “best bad idea” in United States history—enter Iran as a Canadian film producer, and leave the country with the six diplomats as his crew.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: Imagine, if you will, a scenario where the CIA would send an undercover agent to rescue hostages.  The agent would pretend to be a Canadian film producer, the hostages would be his crew, and together, they would sneak out of the country without anyone being the wiser.  It almost sounds too ridiculous to be true, yet, somehow it is.  And thanks to one of the most talented directors in Hollywood today, we have ARGO, a film that does justice to that captivating true story, and proves yet again that truth is always stranger than fiction.

If you were to go back about a decade and said the name “Ben Affleck”, you probably wouldn’t have heard anything more than a few chuckles and scoffs.  (GIGLI and JERSEY GIRL, anyone?) Flash forward to today, and it is safe to say that the man is a force to be reckoned with.  With his exquisite attention to detail and respect to history, Affleck has created a tour de force of a film with ARGO, and has given us a number of scenes that felt all too real…something that hit home when we later see that many moments were recreations of photographs taken during the revolution.

Every moment that we spend in Iran, whether it be the first ten minutes or the last hour, is a moment where your body is locked with tension. As the embassy gates are breached, we are sitting ducks with the Embassy workers.  We see them next to us being blindfolded and taken.  When we sit with the six diplomats in the Canadian Ambassador’s home, everything is on the line, and with a superb cast of character actors that include Tate Donovan, Christopher Denham, Clea Duvall, Rory Cochrane, Kerry Bishe and Scoot McNairy playing our diplomats, we are reminded of their fear every second by way of simple facial expressions and private break downs.  We are with these six.  We are in their shoes.  And oh yes, we are feeling their nerves.

But what makes ARGO so great is not an overdose of drama, but that perfect balance of comedy that comes with it.  Chris Terrio has written a screenplay that not only keeps the audience constantly engaged, but lets them breathe with some wonderful one-liners sprinkled throughout. (Most of which come from “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, who plays Mendez’ CIA buddy Jack O’Donnell…I guess when your job is so serious, you need the funnies to stay sane).  The humor runs especially high with Alan Arkin and John Goodman (he’s popping up everywhere…), who plays real life PLANET OF THE APES makeup artist, John Chambers.  The two help Mendez navigate 1970s Hollywood, while at the same time exposing it for all its ridiculousness.  Both completely steal the scenes they’re in, and when you know you’re about to be stressed out for the next hour, it was a blast to follow these two loonies around for a bit.

As for Affleck, himself, it seems like being a director on his own films has improved his acting tenfold.  Affleck is completely immersed in the script, which lets him easily disappear into the skin of the quiet, discrete, and almost hesitant Tony Mendez.  Somehow, in return for giving up those ‘leading man’ roles that were digging his career grave and instead focusing on work that he loved, Affleck has actually become the George Clooney-esqe leading man that he has always been capable of, and it’s a pleasure to see him reach his great potential.

The story of ARGO is almost too ridiculous to believe.  Hell, even after leaving the theater, I still had trouble accepting the fact that all of this craziness actually happened with the approval of the United States government and CIA.  But that is exactly why the story needed to be told.  And luckily, under the guidance of one of the best directors out there today, we not only received a beautiful, edge of your seat thriller, but a film that does complete justice to an amazing true story that proves the magnificence of the human soul.

GRADE: A-

Mike’s LIKES:

1) BEN AFFLECK:  After GONE BABY GONE and THE TOWN, Ben Affleck has given us yet another extraordinary film, making him one of the most respected directors in Hollywood today.  His directing and acting skills are growing immensely, and if he doesn’t get an Academy Award nomination for this entry, expect one (as well as a win) to come somewhere down the line.

2) RECREATION OF REALITY: As you watch the end credits and see the side by side comparisons between scenes in the film and photographs taken during the Iranian revolution, you realize the extreme about of detail put into this film.  Both impressive and moving…

3) HUMOR: Chris Terrio found a perfect balance between comedy and drama in his screenplay.  Outlandish, but never offensive or over-the-top, the first half is a perfect balance for what we are about to endure during the second half.

4) JOHN GOODMAN/ALAN ARKIN: These two just looked like they were having an absolute blast playing their respective roles!  Completely destroying Hollywood in their wonderfully sarcastic way, I loved every minute they were on screen.

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) NONE: Overall, ARGO is an excellent political thriller that both makes you laugh and keeps you on the edge of your seat for the entire two hours.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) The real-life version of the Argo script used by the CIA was actually the unmade feature film “Lord of Light” based on the novel by Roger Zelazny.

2) “Argo” was the ship Jason and the Argonauts sailed in to retrieve the Golden Fleece.

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

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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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Design

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

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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!

THE DINING ROOM

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!

ON TO THE GUEST BEDROOM!

GUEST BEDROOM AFTER
GUEST BEDROOM AFTER
GUEST BEDROOM AFTER
GUEST BEDROOM BEFORE
GUEST BEDROOM BEFORE
THE GUEST BEDROOM

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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THE GAME ROOM

BASEMENT AFTER
BASEMENT AFTER
BASEMENT AFTER
BASEMENT BEFORE
BASEMENT BEFORE
BASEMENT / GAME ROOM

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 PoolTables.com 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

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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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