Alex Kecskes

Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of film reviews and celebrity interviews for a wide variety of online and print outlets. He has covered red carpet premieres and Comic-Con events for major films and independent releases.

Interview with Alexis Carra on “The Answer”

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Alexis Carra is best known for her roles as Cynthia McDermott in the TV Series Recovery Road and as Jessica in Mixology. She has also appeared in Grey’s Anatomy, Castle, The Mentalist and Anger Management. In The Answer, Carra is Charlotte Parker, a smart, sassy office worker who helps introvert and mysteriously gifted co-worker Bridd Cole (Austin Hébert) figure out who is hunting him and the secret to his true identity. The award winning film helmed by newcomer Iqbal Ahmed unites mystery, sci-fi, fantasy and romance into a nail biting thriller. In this one-on-one interview, Alexis reveals the joys and challenges she faced in bringing Charlotte to life.

Alexis Carra

What attracted you to the role of Charlotte?

Alexis Carra: I liked that she was more than just a love interest for Bridd. To be more than just the sexy vixen that makes Bridd look good. I liked that she had a complicated past, which enabled her to help Bridd get out of his own way to see the things that he needed to see. It was a real partnership. Their love story was really the C story that evolved. I liked that she was a badass.

Austin Hébert & Alexis Carra

Without giving away the ending, when you first read the script, did you race ahead to see what was going on with Bridd?

Alexis: I actually didn’t because I’m a writer as well, and I love watching, reading and that feeling of suspense. I was excited to see how the story would slowly unveil. I kind of knew what was going to happen because I had read the plot breakdowns of my role as well as Bridd’s during the auditions. I was curious to see how it would unfold because I didn’t want to do just another cheapie sci-fi or horror film. Austin was also a friend so we got through the audition process together.

Charlotte proves Bridd’s uncanny ability

The film had its share of chase and fight scenes. Did your background in dance and physical fitness come in handy?

Alexis: I think it did. We had a scene where we had to do a long run, but I didn’t get to do the massive fight scene at the end. My dream role had always been to be a Bond girl, but now that I’m a bit older, I don’t know if I’d be happy with that. I think Charlotte sort of fulfilled that need, in that she was more layered than your typical Bond girl storyline. We had a fight coordinator on set, and as a dancer, I’m used to working with choreography. It just helps you think through those elements of movement.

Bridd and Charlotte on the run

What did you find most challenging about playing Charlotte?

Alexis: As an actor, I think it was trusting what works. There was this long monologue that ended up on the cutting room floor. It’s something I realized wasn’t needed to portray Charlotte’s troubled past. The monologue detailed why Charlotte kept running and why she was so guarded. I think just trusting that those layers were there in the moments of the film that were about the Bridd-Charlotte relationship. And trusting my performance during those moments was enough to communicate what she was about.

Were there subtle things you added to Charlotte that were not in the script?

Alexis: The script gives you the dialog but Iqbal (Ahmed) always gave us room to make changes. I loved working with him. He was so good at making sure it made sense to us. There were times when I asked him if I could change a line or say it differently and he was always open to that. A script is a template and a good script gives actors enough room to fill in the nuanced facial expressions and poses. A script won’t tell you how to feel. In real life, emotions just take us. They’re not just black and white. I also added things like her body language, how she stood, and even the wardrobe—like the boots I wore—helped define the character.

There’s a boldness and take-charge optimism to Charlotte. Is that something you like to imbue in all your characters?

Alexis: I love that you put it that way because that’s something that every actor does—bring pieces of themselves to the role and you find places where you intersect with the role and where you diverge. I think I tend to be a bold, take charge woman in life and that played into how I chose to play Charlotte. There were moments when Bridd needed that and times where they were conflicted. The montage of me helping Bridd get ready and teaching him how to take a shot revealed that. Also, what I did at the lake house, getting him ready and being playful about it. It’s a kind of playful leadership that I use when I teach dance.

How are you like Charlotte and how area you different from her?

Alexis: I think Charlotte likes to be a leader, she likes to have a say. I think she likes to have fun and when she’s not in the mood for fun, she’s not open to change. I think she’s a little more stubborn than I am. We all have stuff in our past, and I think I’ve worked to let go of some of my angst. Part of what’s so cool about Charlotte is that in The Answer part 2, I’d be curious to see if she started to do that work in their relationship with Bridd. Charlotte was a loner and I’m a people person.

 

So what’s next for you? Will there be a sequel?

Alexis: It was a long process to get the film made, so I don’t know if Iqbal wants to take that on. I know he’s got other projects. I think it would be super cool to do it. I did a couple of series after The Answer, but right now, I’m in audition mode. I’m pitching a period drama that I wrote with a friend. I spent six years on Broadway and I recently co-founded Broadway Arts Camp with a friend, which is here in L.A. and Seattle.

View the trailer here

 

Dirty Dancing 2017…a bit out of step with the Original

If you’ve never seen the original, you’ll like Dirty Dancing the redo. If you were smitten by the heartwarming 1987 release, you may want to dig it out of your DVD pile and watch it. While the redo follows all the beats of the classic coming of age drama, there are some things that just may grate on the nerves of purists.

Colt Prattes, Bruce Greenwood, Abigail Breslin, Debra Messing, Sarah Hyland

Diving right in, the casting is just a bit off; Abigail Breslin’s Baby probably should have gone to Sarah Hyland (who plays Baby’s sister). And Colt Prattes is simply too much Lords of Flatbush for the Johnny Castle role, lacking the vulnerability this tender love story calls for. He comes across as self absorbed and a bit arrogant. His Johnny is also damaged goods with an extensive criminal past, as opposed to the original Johnny who eked out an honest living as a painter/plasterer. So Baby saying that Johnny is a lot like her father just rings false.

Next comes the key scene: Baby’s baptism into dirty dancing at the staff dance party. Sadly this too falls flat without the energetic rendition of Do You Love Me by the Contours. Instead we have one of the staff singing Otis Redding’s Love Man. A great classic, but Do You Love Me fits this intro scene to a T.

Colt Prattes & Katey Sagal

Later, showing Johnny bedding Katy Sagal’s cougar Vivian (as opposed to simply implying it with dialog) underscores what we don’t like about Johnny. And while his sultry rendition of Fever with Sagal is entertaining, it’s just another reminder of Johnny’s “watch me sing and dance” self-absorbed lothario persona. In the original film, Johnny didn’t appear to enjoy dancing with Vivian, which is why he and Baby dovetailed so nicely; but here, the Vivian-Johnny chemistry is where the real heat emanates.

Showing Lisa and Robbie (Shane Harper) making out at the lakeshore and her flirting with black piano man (Christopher Long) gets us needlessly involved in Lisa’s story, which oddly seems to compete with Baby’s. The same holds true for the mini-B story of the Houseman’s rekindling their romance, a segue that nearly takes on a life of its own. Nicole Scherzinger’s Penny faithfully reproduces her role as dance mentor in trouble, rescued by Baby and her father. Incidentally, Trevor Einhorn is a watered down Neil, without the over-the-top arrogance and geeky persona that made audiences laugh. In some ways, the new Neil is almost suitable for Baby.

Abigail Breslin & Trevor Einhorn

The magic of Eric Carmen’s Hungry Eyes as Johnny helps Baby through her routine is one of those “movie must haves.” Regrettably, the song is replaced by a milquetoast imitation that accompanies the Johnny-Baby dance as it sinks to room temperature. The heat and sultry moves are simply not there in these studio practice routines.

Nicole Scherzinger & Colt Prattes

And while it’s fun to watch Penny sing and dance as she helps Baby master the art of letting the man lead, it again robs us of the Baby-Johnny heat so eloquently portrayed in the original. The film comes closest to generating the kind of incendiary passion we saw in the original during their Love Is Strange tease dance.

The dance finale is also a bit disappointing. Having the two leads sing Bill Medley’s classic, The Time of My Life is a near miss. We want to see how Baby has improved her dancing not listen to her sing. The film’s ending, while emotional, denies us the imaginative conclusion each of us had conjured up in our own minds about the ultimate fate of Baby and Johnny.

All told, we have to give the cast and everyone involved kudos for the courage and work it took to remake this iconic classic.

Dirty Dancing 2017 will be available on DVD June 27th.

 

Interview with musician/composer Rachel Flowers and director Lorenzo DeStefano on “Hearing is Believing”

In the new feature documentary Hearing Is Believing, the extraordinary multi-talented musician/composer Rachel Flowers reveals what it’s like to have perfect pitch. Award-winning producer/director Lorenzo DeStefano introduces the world to the phenomenally talented Flowers, creating a dynamic and engaging portrait of a musical prodigy. The documentary follows Rachel, who is blind, and her single mother living paycheck to paycheck with two children. Underscored with Rachel’s stunning music as the soundtrack, Hearing Is Believing revels in Rachel’s joyous love of song, illuminating the bonds of family and the divine mysteries of creativity. Read more

The Space Between Us Closes Mars-Earth Gap

Set in the not too distant future, The Space Between Us taps into today’s increasingly popular mission to Mars space epics. There’s already a colony on Mars and joining the Mars team is astronaut Sarah Elliot (Janet Montgomery), who discovers she is pregnant. Shortly after landing, she dies from complications while giving birth to Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield). Rather than return to Earth, the powers that be decide to let Gardner grow up on the Red Planet—as the first true Martian. Read more

Interview with Stefanie Estes on “If Looks Could Kill”

Based on true events, If Looks Could Kill follows Faith (Stefanie Estes), a rookie cop eager to prove herself in law enforcement. She joins old flame Paul (Tomek Kosalka) on the force, but is soon crestfallen and grows increasingly troubled when Paul becomes romantically involved with Jessica (Summer Spiro). A lethal beauty obsessed with stardom, Jessica harbors a criminal past and a future sure to leave dead lovers in her wake. It’s classic good vs. evil in a twist and turn nail biter as Faith struggles to build a case against Jessica—before the body count reaches Paul. In this one-on-one interview, Stefanie reveals the challenges she faced in portraying a rookie cop and how she brought the character of Faith to life. Read more

At the roundtable with Mallory Jansen & writer Jeffrey Bell on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

 

Mallory Jansen and writer Jeffrey Bell talk about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Now in its fourth season, the action-packed series has morphed from its Avengers roots to exploring themes like Ghost Rider and Life Model Decoys (LMDs). The series has added some interesting takes on comic book characters, like the Patriot and Nitro.

At the roundtable with Ming-Na Wen & Jason O’Mara on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Ming-Na Wen and Jason O’Mara talk about their roles on Agents of Shield. Now in its fourth season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has morphed from its Avengers roots to exploring themes like Ghost Rider and Life Model Decoys (LMDs).  The series has added some interesting takes on comic book characters, like the Patriot and Nitro. Ming-Na fans will like what she says about all the various Mays she’s had to act out.

At the roundtable with Sarah Ramos & François Arnaud on “Midnight, Texas”

Sarah Ramos and François Arnaud talk about their roles on Midnight, Texas. Based on True Blood author Charlaine Harris’ series of novels. the supernatural thriller features a vampire, witch, angel, hit woman and anyone looking to hide from the outside world. François Arnaud plays Manfred Bernardo, a charming, powerful psychic who can communicate with spirits. Sarah Ramos plays Creek, an aspiring writer with big dreams. Midnight, Texas premieres July 25th on NBC. Read more

At the roundtable with Parisa Fitz Henley & Dylan Bruce on “Midnight Texas”

Parisa Fitz Henley and Dylan Bruce talk about their roles on Midnight Texas. Based on True Blood author Charlaine Harris’ series of novels. the supernatural thriller features a vampire, witch, angel, hit woman and anyone looking to hide from the outside world. Parisa Fitz-Henley, playsFiji,” a powerful witch who owns the local wiccan shop  Dylan Bruce plays Bobo,” a pawn shop owner who has everything the town needs. Midnight Texas premieres July 25th on NBC. Read more

At the Roundtable with Jenna Elfman & Stephen Schneider on “Imaginary Mary”

Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider talk about “Imaginary Mary,” a new TV series from the creative geniuses behind “The Goldbergs.”  The live action/CGI hybrid comedy follows Alice, a single, public relations executive who draws on Mary, her imaginary childhood “friend” to help her deal with the new love of her life–a divorced father of three. Imaginary Mary can be seen on Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30c on ABC. Read more

Natural Products Expo West — Bigger and Better than Ever

Natural Products Expo West 2017

Drawing a record-setting 80,000 attendees, the 37th annual Natural Products Expo West & Engredea has grown to become the world’s largest natural, organic and healthy products event.

Main floor

Over 3,100 exhibiting companies, including more than 500 first-time exhibitors showcased their products during the five-day show from March 9-13 at the Anaheim Convention Center. The event not only filled two and a half floors of the Convention Center, but also spilled over into the Anaheim Marriott Hotel for the first time.

Panhandle Milling is a flour mill, grain processing, blending, facility in Dawn, Texas producing organic, whole grain, high-gluten flour, tortilla and bread flour. They process ancient grains and corn products for southwest markets, although there are some products that are distributed nationwide.
The ladies of +RED Power Elixir®. The energy drink features Red Marine Algae, Green Coffee Bean Extract, B-Complex, Electrolytes and the super amino blend of L-Arginine & L-Carnitine.
Crystal demonstrating the Spoonk™ Mat designed to reduce tension, muscular pain, stress and anxiety.
Harmony Ear Candle demonstration. The burning candle creates a low-level suction force that pulls wax and debris out of your ear.
The ladies of Black Forest Organic showcasing some of the company’s yummy gummy treats.
Going bananas for Banana Joe chips. The chips are handmade using handpicked bananas to ensure correct ripeness. The bananas are gently cooked to allow the flavors to remain intact.

Interview with “Never-Ending Story” icon Tami Stronach

First released in theaters over 33 years ago, The Never-Ending Story still has a huge following. Directed by Wolfgang Peterson, the film catapulted its child star Tami Stronach to stardom and became a global hit, earning over $100 million worldwide. Today, Tami’s Paper Canoe Company produces ‘family friendly’ work similar to Never-Ending Story. In this one-on-one interview, Tami fondly recalls her role as the Child-like Empress in her breakout role, and she reveals the many new creative outlets she continues to explore as a talented entertainer. Read more

Interview with Director Abigail Fuller on “Do You Dream in Color?”

An enlightening and poignant coming of age documentary, Do You Dream In Color? captures the inspired journeys of four courageous blind teens as they face the challenges and frustrations of living in a sighted world. There’s, Connor 14, who uses echo-location to improve his skateboarding skills so he can join a skateboarding team. Sixteen-year-old Sarah dreams of studying in Portugal, where her mother was born. Read more