Sunday, January 09, 2011
Daniel Kimmel: The Critic of Ball Square
By Doug Holder
An amazing thing happened at the Diesel Café in Davis Square on a Saturday afternoon—I actually secured a seat. Amidst the happy din of people taking shelter from a cold winter’s afternoon; I met with TV and movie critic Daniel Kimmel. Kimmel told me that after his marriage broke up he left Brookline, Mass for the balm of Ball Square, Somerville. Kimmel, 55, has written for a variety of publications during his long career including “Variety,” “The Worcester Telegram & Gazette,” “The Jewish Advocate,” "The Boston Globe," "The Christian Science Monitor," to name a few. He has also met or interviewed celebrities like Gene Roddenberry, Edwin Buzz Aldrin, Jonathan Winter, and John Clesse, among many others.
Kimmel has five books in print including “I’ll Have What She’s Having: Behind the Scenes of the Great Romantic Comedies.” His book about FOX TV (“The Fourth Network”) won the Cable Award for the best book about the TV industry in 2004.
Like many a transplanted writer in our burg Kimmel has not had to look hard to find the charms of Somerville, Mass. He said Ball Square is the “Breakfast Capital” with such eateries as “True Grounds” to satisfy the Somervillian gourmet or gourmand. The only thing that Kimmel bemoans is the lack of bookstores in Somerville, and mourns the loss of McIntyre and Moore in Davis Square.
I asked Kimmel if he found Somerville a “cinematic” city. He said: “The Rosebud Café in Davis Square is very film noir and Ball Square’s Kelly’s Diner would be a perfect fit for a 1950’s film.”
I had to ask Kimmel what his favorite lawyer movies are, since he was once a practicing barrister. Surprisingly he said: “I didn’t like "The Verdict” because I know enough about how the courts run that I could see the flaws in the movie.” However, Kimmel was very positive about my favorites “Twelve Angry Men,” and “Inherit the Wind.”
Of course, being a lover of Boston-based cinema I asked Kimmel what his favorite films were in this genre. He didn’t think all that much of my choice ”The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” but was very up on “Mystic River,” and” Gone, Baby, Gone.”
Kimmel wears many hats to make a living—one is a teacher’s cap. He has taught Film at Suffolk University in Boston for many years. He tells his student charges to get to know a genre of film like Westerns—so they will become intimate with that genre’s elements and writing about it will become second nature.
The critic quotes Mari Puzo, (the author of “The Godfather") “Don’t bore them” when he teaches writing. He said if the writer is bored with his own work he or she can be sure the reader will feel the same way. And like most accomplished scribes he believes in multiple revisions and drafts.
Kimmel is also a Science Fiction aficionado and counts Philip K. Dick as one of his favorite authors. In fact the ever prolific Kimmel has a new book coming out titled: “Jar Jar Binks Must Die... and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies.” Now if you can make heads or tails of that title my hat is off to you!
Dan advises aspiring writers to teach, write for a number of publications, but most of all hustle, in order to develop a career in this market. Kimmel has hand in a lot of things, but he impresses me with a man with a passion for his work—and he is a lucky man indeed.