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Jar Jar Binks Must Die... and other Observations about Science Fiction Movies Paperback – March 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Fantastic Books (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1617200611
  • ISBN-13: 978-1617200618
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,687,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a lawyer turned film critic who loves to get his college students excited about old movies and get senior groups open to seeing new ones. My philosophy comes from George Burns: find out what you enjoy doing and get someone to pay you for it. My interest runs from romantic comedy to science fiction films (the subjects of my last two books), and also includes Hitchcock, film noir, the great westerns, Truffaut, musicals, Keaton, Wilder, and many others. In my books I try to convey my enthusiasm as well as my knowledge hoping to get the reader to want to see (or resee) the films. I am past president of the Boston Society of Film Critics and founding co-chair of the Boston Online Film Critics Association.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Burstein on February 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
"A spirited explanation of the role of science fiction films in our culture. Any serious fan of the cinema must read this book."

That's my blurb on the front of this book, and I stand by it 100%. Daniel M. Kimmel has written a book in which he defends the role of science fiction films in the culture, not that it should need defending. The essays in this book are a delight from start to finish as Kimmel, a well-known film critic and former president of the Boston Society of Film Critics, points out how science fiction is just as important a genre in film as romantic comedy, western, or drama. Furthermore, the book includes a few surprises, as Kimmel praises some films that one wouldn't expect and also critiques some that most consider classics in the field.

This very readable book will appeal to fans of science fiction and science fiction films, of course, but it's also an important book for anyone who wants to understand the role of film in our culture. It will entertain you as it delights you and makes you think. And it'll make you want to watch some of your favorite films over again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Daniel A. Miller on March 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Having just read Mr. Kimmel's excellent collection of essays, I must give an unqualified, hearty recommendation!

Mr. Kimmel is engrossing, engaging, and entertaining as a writer, and his several essays undoubtedly make the reader think, as well as enjoy. Whether defending the right of science fiction film to be classified in the same breaths as romantic comedy or Western or noir--as it should be--or simply advocating for overlooked classics and semi-classics, Mr. Kimmel writes with a fluid, sincere style, by turns enthusiastic, indignant, and funny, as befits his role as an instructor of film at a respected Massachusetts university.

Perhaps one of the best compliments for a book is that it resonates with the reader; certainly several essays--particularly "SF, My Parents, and Me" and the titular essay--did so for me. But most importantly, Mr. Kimmel's collection resonates insofar as it offers encouragement to the reader to seek out movies that he or she perhaps had not considered; for me, "Gattaca" and "Happy Accidents" were the standouts.

If these are the goals of a book, Mr. Kimmel has both met and exceeded them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Bunker VINE VOICE on May 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was giving me the warm-and-fuzzies from the first two sentences of the introduction: "If there's a common theme to the essays in this book [...] it is this: science fiction films are worth discussing. Better yet, science fiction films are as worthy as any other kind of film for serious discussion."

Yowza! Preach it, Brother!

As Mr. Kimmel points out, this seemingly normal and obvious attitude is a rarity in discussion of SF films -- among reviewers, in the viewing public at large, and perhaps especially among people who create SF films. It's still a common practice for the producer, director, publicist, star, etc. of any half-way sophisticated and thoughtful SF film to proudly declare that their movie "isn't science fiction" because it's about people, or relationships, or social issues, or whatever. That is, if a movie is SF, then it's dumb entertainment, and if it isn't dumb entertainment then it ipso facto isn't SF.

So it's great to have a intelligent, knowledgeable voice like Kimmel's discussing SF films without being embarrassed to speak the phrase "science fiction." A man who knows movies and also knows SF, both on film and off.

Here are a few of the highlights in the book for me:

A fascinating discussion of how the various film versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers have reflected the profoundly different historical periods in which they were produced.

A compare-and-contrast of The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing from Another World (both 1951), showing how they reflected starkly different attitudes towards scientists and toward the unknown.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dave on December 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Having recently completed the lastest work in the Dan Kimmel canon, I have to say, this one may actually be among his 5 or 6 best. Dan's collection of essays explores many famous (and infamous) science fiction movies thematically. He spends significant amount of treespace defending science-fiction as a reputable film genre and indirectly, teaches the reader to differentiate between S/F and Sci-Fi.

And he does all this (and more) using a colloquial and easy-to-read style that belies his role as an academic of film studies. I'm sure that his students would be shocked to see him move beyond his typical lecturing bombast and write a book that even their parents could understand.

So, S/F true-believers and detractors all should buy and read this book. He might not change your opinion about science fiction films and their role in our society, but you will definitely enjoy the journey.

Note: For those of you who are concerned that this product might be unsafe, and therefore worthy of contacting U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), channel your irrational fears elsewhere.
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