Tag Archives: Harold Pinter

Side Comments of the Month VIII — the Casual Fan Edition

Side Comments of the Month VIII — the Casual Fan Edition

We called it "X-Men Live."

1. Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of watching Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land, now on its August run at the Berkeley Rep. It never occurred to me that I’d have the opportunity to watch these giants of theatre in action, so I felt incredibly blessed.

The performance went well. At one point Stewart fell flat on the ground and I almost had a heart attack—I wanted to call 911! Thankfully, it was just his character’s drunken stupor. It’s amazing how Stewart still has complete mastery over his body. I know people half his age who don’t.

Several times during the play, Stewart and McKellen sat opposite each other and got all snippy with bon mots. During these moments, I half-expected Billy Crudup to wheel in a glass chess set. No, that didn’t happen. But it would have been cool if it did.

No Man’s Land is a depressing play to watch if you hang out with a) old people, b) alcoholics, c) writers, or d) any combination of the above. Still, I’d watch it all over again in a heartbeat if I could. Hell, I’d probably watch McKellen and Stewart read a phone book out loud, they have so much expression in their voices and their faces.


2) I watched two “old” movies, The Hunger Games (2012) and Shaun of the Dead (2004), just in time for their sequels.

Despite my distaste for shaky cam, The Hunger Games was okay. It’s a slick, well-made popcorn movie. Jennifer Lawrence made that film a blockbuster; I think her performance alone sustained my interest.

Incidentally, I know the battle lines are drawn between fans of The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. If anyone is asking, I prefer Battle Royale for its development of minor characters. The other tributes in The Hunger Games do not get the same treatment. The one thing Battle Royale doesn’t have is Jennifer Lawrence.

(I think I am working my way backwards through this trope. In the future, I might tackle The Running Man or The Lord of the Flies.)

A romance with BRAAAINS.

I tend to avoid horror movies so Shaun of the Dead was a pleasant surprise. I think I was worried it wouldn’t entertain me as much as Hot Fuzz (2007). Despite the zombies, Shaun is a sweet romantic comedy. I find the concept so refreshing I might even give Warm Bodies a try now.

Nick Frost plays such a jerk in Shaun—I have to say I agreed with their beleaguered roommate on so many counts—so I’m counting the days to World’s End. I want to know which Nick Frost shows up: “Nice” Nick or “Jerk” Nick.

Of course, I’m also waiting for Martin Freeman to have some speaking lines in a Simon Pegg movie. Martin Freeman is great in comedies.


3) Here’s a quasi-serious question for anyone reading this: is it possible to a casual fan nowadays?

I’ve been pondering this question ever since my brother-in-law asked me, “do you know who the new Doctor is, and do we care?”

I could actually answer his question because I lurk nerd sites like i09 and the Mary Sue. I might be crucified for saying so, but I only care about Doctor Who when the show bothers my friends, because I hate to see my Facebook wall explode with nerd rage.

I remember asking my friend Mary Ann, a longtime Doctor Who fan, where to start watching and she was at a complete loss. I think she started watching Doctor Who when she was in her mother’s womb, and for that reason I feel that getting into Doctor Who is like getting into Star Trek: it’s a lifelong commitment. I don’t have that sort of time or energy.

My brother-in-law snorted at this idea. He said he just read some good Doctor Who novels when he was a kid, and he just thought of them as alternative reading material to The Hardy Boys. “It’s possible to like something without going nuts over it,” was the subtext.

That made me remember… I didn’t grow up on the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, I went straight from junior editions of Sherlock Holmes to the complete, unabridged canon when I was twelve. The anecdotes and the conversation may seem pointless, except it illustrates my idea of “lifelong commitment.”

So… is it possible to be a casual fan of anything nowadays? Sometimes I feel it’s impossible, when the internet is booby-trapped with hardcore fans intent on protecting their “turf” and misogynist trolls persist in thinking that fake geek girls exist. What do you think?