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.
Based on Dave Eggers novel and helmed by James Ponsoldt, The Circle is less eye opener than reminder of where we’re eventually headed. As Sun Microsystems chief executive Scott McNealy said nearly 15 years ago, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”
While not as imminently insidious as Person of Interest’s “Machine,” founder Eamon Bailey’s (Tom Hanks) Circle is every bit as invasive and foreboding. What’s perhaps most unsettling is that Hanks’ humble Norman Rockwell persona sells his social media hydra as innocently as a little kid on the corner hawking lemonade. Read more
A neat little brew of Housewives of OC meets Scream, The Ice Cream Truck explores the nagging suspicions we’ve all had about those doodle-ding trucks and soon to be cougar Milfs trolling suburbia. When housewife Mary (Deanna Russo) returns to her suburban hometown, she discovers an off-kilter mix of overly nosy neighbors, overly sexed teens and an ice cream man overly dedicated to serving scoops of blood with his Rum Raisin. In this one-on-one interview, director Megan Freels Johnston reveals the challenges she faced in bringing The Ice Cream Truck to the screen.
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.
What attracted you to the role of Charlotte?
AlexisCarra: 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. Read more
It’s a challenge to take on a subject that affects such a miniscule part of the population (up to 0.014% of people assigned male at birth and 0.003% of people assigned female at birth are diagnosed with this condition). Does 3 Generations do justice to the topic of gender dysphoria? Yes, but with caveats. Read more
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Swing Dancing started in the streets of Harlem in the late 20s and early 30s during the depression. Louis Armstrong provided the sound, Count Basie provided the beat, and Duke Ellis advised, “it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”
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.
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
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, plays“Fiji,” 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
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
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.
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.