Back to the Future Day Q&A Panel With Cast and Crew in NYC

L-R: Guy, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Huey Lewis, and Bob Gale
L-R: Guy, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Huey Lewis, and Bob Gale

Tonight I was lucky enough to attend a special screening of Back to the Future II at AMC Loews Lincoln Square in NYC. Somehow, someway, VIP tickets fell from the heavens and into my hands… OK, so maybe it wasn’t that dramatic but I got some dope tickets either way.  Fourth row wasn’t too shabby.

Special Edition BTTF newspaper by USA TODAY
Special Edition BTTF newspaper by USA TODAY

Fans and onlookers gathered around the modified Delorean parked on the red carpet. Security guards in suits and earpieces, along with a fair share of NYPD, spotted the building’s exterior. The event itself seemed a little hectic. The Q&A was scheduled to start at 7:30 but didn’t get going till a bit after (about 8 or so).

Light cosplay of fans wearing the infamous red vest could be seen all around. Some of the more extreme fans were decked out in heavy cosplay of their favorite characters. I’m sure everyone was thrilled when leaving the theater and receiving a special edition of tomorrows USA Today. Don’t worry! You’ll be able to pick up a copy of your own tomorrow!

The Q&A was hosted by a guy from a company I don’t remember. Something with a “B”. Blasting, maybe? Sorry guy.

TRIPLE EDIT HAT TRICK:  Turns out the company is Blastr and the guy in question is self-described “Nerd Gone Pro”, Mr. Aaron Sagers. Thanks for being a good sport! Hire me for stuff. This concludes Editgate 2015.

Panelists consisted of Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Huey Lewis, and Bob Gale. Please enjoy this almost full recording of the panel! I apologize for my lack of foresight but I didn’t start recording the Q&A session till about 5 minutes in.

EDIT: Sorry the initial upload wasn’t working! I re-uploaded the audio to my soundcloud. Please enjoy! Back to the Future Day – October 21, 2015 – Q&A Panel with Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Huey Lewis, and Bob Gale

DOUBLE EDIT: Apologies for giggling so loudly.

WARNING: The first 20 seconds I’m hitting the microphone while I’m moving the phone. Audio quality isn’t terrible but isn’t great either. Be aware there will be a few random pops from moving the phone and loud applause.

Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Huey Lewis, and Bob Gale
Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Huey Lewis, and Bob Gale

It’s been quite a while since I watched Back to the Future II. Michael J. Fox is the brave and hot headed, Marty McFly. Christopher Lloyd as the lovable mad scientist, Dr. Emmett Brown. Lea Thompson as the queen of mommy issues, Lorraine Baines McFly. To be honest, I’ve never been the biggest Back to the Future fan.. After tonight I may be a convert.

Maybe it’s nostalgia. Maybe it was being surrounded by loving fans (shout out to the insanely excited guy behind me that quoted the whole movies). Maybe it was because I last saw it when I was 13. Whatever the reasons, I enjoyed Back to the Future II a hell of a lot more than I remember. Do yourself a favor and take a ride down memory lane for Back to the Future day!

Please check out The Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research and consider donating!

Beasts of No Nation (2015): No Glory in War

abraham-beasts-08192015Within Beasts of No Nation’s first hour I teared up three times and cried once. No punches are pulled in director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s brutal depiction of war as a child soldier. The film is an adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala’s novel of the same name. Forgive the cliched statement.. but Beasts of No Nation grabs you by the throat and does not let go.

Beasts of No Nation stars 14-year-old newcomer Abraham Attah as Agu. Attah was discovered cutting class and playing football(soccer) when he was approached to audition for the film. He plays a lovable kid from an unnamed West African nation that is devolving into civil war. Agu comes from a family much like any other. A loving mother and father, a big brother only concerned with his muscles and showing them to girls, and a grandpa that “has the lights on but no one is home”.

Attah’s performance is captivating to say the least. This kid deserves all the awards. Despite being a young and inexperienced actor; Attah commands your attention while sharing the screen with veteran actor Idris Elba. Elba plays a charismatic military leader known only as “Commandant”. He serves as a surrogate father figure that the young boys fear and admire. Elba has a strange talent for playing a cruel character and getting you to root for him regardless.

Abraham Attah as Agu on the right. Emmanuel Nii Adom Quaye as Strika in the back.
Abraham Attah as Agu on the right. Emmanuel Nii Adom Quaye as Strika to the left.

I must also applaud Emmanuel Nii Adom Quaye as Strika. He becomes a friend to Agu soon after his transition into a child soldier. Quaye conveys so much emotion in the tiniest of moments without saying anything. His ability to convey so much through body language and facial expressions is something to be admired.

Beyond a wonderful cast, the film features beautiful visuals and audio. A scene featuring Agu’s first use of “brown-brown” stands out in particular. Brown-brown is a mixture of cocaine and smokeless gunpowder. It was reportedly given to child soldiers in West African conflicts. The colors and sounds of the film change to reflect Agu’s hallucinations in subtle yet visually stunning ways.

The film is worthy of praise in so many different categories but I found myself most impressed by their depiction of war’s brutality. It is common to see war movies that glorify the main characters on the right side of morality. It’s often depictions of the U.S. military as the conquering heroes or, oddly enough, as the underdogs.

Beasts of No Nation shows the perspective of a true underdog. We experience life through the eyes of beasts-of-no-nation-2-720x405children struggling to survive the environment they are now a part of. We observe their most horrific acts, how they cope, and how they struggle with what they have done. The film is 2 hours and 17 minutes long but I would recommend giving yourself some time after to process.

Beasts of No Nation paints a visceral depiction of war. There are no “good” or “bad” guys. There are survivors and there are the dead. That is what it comes down to as the film taunts your sense of morality. Beasts ventures into the darkest recesses of humanity without regard for how uncomfortable it may make you.

For all these reasons I applaud Beasts of No Nation. It dares to show the true face of war. It illustrates the manipulation, propaganda, and primal emotions that are exploited to convince youth to go to war. The reality of wars futility and suffering are on full display. Fury is another film that recently touched on this but to a much smaller extent.

Idris Elba as Commandant
Idris Elba as Commandant

While watching Beasts it’s important to recognize the truth in its portrayal of war. Every brutal scene has likely happened somewhere in the world within the last week. I know this is hard for many to acknowledge but it’s important that we understand war for what it truly is and not for the fantasy its become.

Beasts of No Nation is a powerhouse of a film that will leave you feeling way more than you want to. Transitioning from happiness to sadness and back in a moment is commonplace. I encourage everyone to check it out on Netflix or their local theater if it’s playing nearby. Beasts of No Nation is one of those films you may not want to watch but you need to see. 5 out 5. Go see this film.

Please visit Child Soldiers International at http://www.child-soldiers.org
To learn more about real child-soldiers, please visit Child Soldiers International at http://www.child-soldiers.org