BENDER? The German expressionist classic is a sci-fi masterpiece, says Kimmel.

What’s About ? Less than many people , and the Bar- say he’s going to have bad tender’s Guide ( vision and he might have think, says movie ), is set to come out a heart defect. His whole Dan Kimmel ’77. early in 2013. life is written for him, just from his DNA. And we’re Interview by Karen McCally ’02 (PhD) Why do so much more than our need an advocate? DNA. I show that movie Movie critic Dan Kimmel ’77 has got a Whenever there is a se- to my students and they yellow jacket in his bonnet. The former rious show or love it. I had one come president of the Boston of movie with science fic- up to me and say, “I never , cochair of the Boston Online Film tion elements, you will thought I would cry at a Critics Association, and professor at inevitably read a review science fiction movie.” Suffolk says there’s one movie with a director or one of genre that’s never gotten its due: science the stars or the writer, You’ve had a lot to say, fiction. “It’s not really science in this same vein, about CRITIC: Sci-fi addresses serious In 2011, he made his case in a polemic, fiction. Yes, we use Metropolis. themes, says Kimmel. Jar Jar Binks Must Die . . . and other Obser- travel and spaceships and Yes. When Metropolis, by vations about Science Fiction Movies (- killer . But it’s not really science fic- the great , generally acknowl- tastic Books). It was nominated for a 2012 tion. It’s really about people.” Oh really? edged to be one of the greatest filmmak- , among the most prestigious One of my favorite films of the last 15 years ers of all time, was restored to its original honors in science . is Gattaca. It’s set in a near- society, length about three years ago, one of the The one-time Logos humor columnist re- where basically all babies are born with de- German film archivists who was working turns to Rochester every five years to speak signer genes. The was born the on restoring the film gave an interview to at the Class of 1977 dinner. His first nov- old-fashioned way. There’s a chilling scene: the New York and he said, “Well, now el, Shh! It’s a Secret: A about Aliens, He’s born and they draw his . They that we can see the complete film, we can

46 ROCHESTER REVIEW January–February 2013 Corbis (Metropolis); Adam Fenster (Kimmel)

5_RochRev_Jan2013_Gazette.indd 46 12/21/12 1:24 PM Alumni Gazette RECOMMENDED: Kimmel’s favorites include The Day the Stood Still, (inset, top left), and 2001: A Odyssey (inset, bottom left).

see that the science fiction trappings are re- First, let’s talk about what genre does. Kimmel’s ‘Baker’s Dozen’ ally very thin.” This is a movie with a mad Genre offers a set of tools to tell stories So what are the must-see science fiction scientist, a killer , and a dystopian fu- about us and our lives. It allows us to talk films? Kimmel provides a “baker’s dozen.” ture! A more recent example is The Time about things in code. And so for westerns, One note: “Where there are multiple Traveler’s Wife. It’s a romantic film and that means that High Noon could talk about versions, I go with the earlier one. Except it’s also science fiction. You can read the the Hollywood blacklist ever men- for The Fly,” Kimmel says. “In that case, I interviews—“Oh no, it’s not really science tioning . And for science fic- favor the 1986 .” fiction. It’s really about the relationship be- tion, Invasion of the Body Snatchers could tween the characters.” That would be like do the same thing. So you see a movie like • Metropolis (1927) saying, “Unforgiven isn’t that—a critic now might say, “Oh it’s about • Bride of (1935) really a , it’s about the characters.” pods from space”—but I’m sitting there • Things to Come (1936) saying, “Wow, this is about some really in- • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) So why the dismissive appraisals? teresting that they really couldn’t • The Thing (1951) Even in , somebody famously not- talk about directly in 1956 because some- • Forbidden (1956) ed that the golden age of science fiction body would have yelled, ‘Commie!’” There • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is when you’re 12. Which is true, because would have been pickets in front of the the- • 2001: A (1968) that’s when a lot of us get into it. But sci- ater. But it’s pod people, so we can get away • Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) ence fiction is really by adults, a lot of it is with it. • Sleeper (1973) written for adults, and when it comes to • Blade Runner (1982) junky sci-fi movies, I point to a quote by the You just completed a science fiction novel— • The Fly (1986 remake of the great science fiction writer Theodore Stur- Shh! It’s a Secret: A Novel about Aliens, 1958 original) geon. An interviewer said to him, “Isn’t it Hollywood, and the Bartender’s Guide? • Gattaca (1997) true that 90 percent of science fiction is just It’s due out in January. The premise is first crud?” And Sturgeon said, “Yes. Ninety per- between Earth and this other plan- in the movies. It’s about the friendship be- cent of anything is crud.” et. And now it’s a year later. They’ve been tween the movie executive and the alien as exchanging scientists, exchanging ambas- they’re working on what turns out to be a Why does it what genre critics and sadors. And the son of an alien ambassador top secret movie project. So, yes, it’s about others assign—or don’t—to a film? comes out to Hollywood and wants to be people. But it’s also science fiction.r

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