“The following video essay takes a look at three studio films directed by the genius genre Joe Dante. While Dante’s early films emerged out of the energetic “get it done” approach of Roger Corman, his later experiences with studios were less than straightforward. The essay takes a look at the hybrid live-action animated feature Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), the sci-fi coming-of-age flick Explorers (1985), and the marvelously chaotic blank check that is Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990). In the essay, each segment parallels the three parts of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise, respectively). The result is a much more measured portrait of studio relations, from the hellish to the divine.” [. . .] –Meg Shields, Film School Rejects, August 13, 2021 (retrieved March 30, 2022)
Divinity and damnation — why Dante still matters Article, Financial Times (2021)
“‘Onorate l’altissimo poeta!’ — ‘Honour the supreme poet!’ In Dante’s Divine Comedy, these words are said of Virgil, Dante’s guide through Hell and Purgatory. Now, 700 years after Dante’s death on September 14, 1321, it seems more right than ever to apply the words to Dante himself.
“Dante’s reputation has never stood higher. He has been revered by an extraordinary number of the greatest poets and writers of the past hundred years — Eliot, Pound, Joyce, Beckett, Borges, Montale, and the great Armenian poet Yeghishe Charents, to name only a few.” [. . .] –Robert Chandler, Financial Times, September 28, 2021 (retrieved March 30, 2022)
Chandler’s article, published originally in the British newspaper Financial Times, goes on to review three Dante-related books: Dante by Alessandro Barbero, a translation of Purgatorio by D.M. Black, and Visions of Heaven by Martin Kemp. View our posts for each of these by clicking their respective links. The full text of the article is available here.
Why Does Everyone Love Dante? Article, Jason M. Baxter (2021)
“No other artist has aged as well as Dante Alighieri. He has never really gone out of fashion, except perhaps during the Enlightenment. Just after his death, his Divine Comedy was the subject of heavy-duty theological commentaries in Latin, a level of study generally reserved for works of sacred theology. A century later, during the Renaissance, ambitious designers, whose heads were full of cartography and perspective and new worlds, ambitiously mapped out Dante’s view of the afterlife, as if it were a newly discovered continent (see, for example, Botticelli’s famous map of hell).
“Now, during the 700th anniversary year of Dante’s death, Pope Francis has written an apostolic letter in his honor, calling him a ‘prophet of hope’ and a ‘witness to the innate yearning for the infinite present in the human heart.’
“In short, nothing makes you crave mercy, thirst for it with a dry mouth, quite like Dante’s avant-garde, modernist poem of pain and human failure. And I think this is what has motivated the pope to turn literary critic! At the heart of Dante’s poem is a fragmented vision. But paradoxically, it was precisely because Dante’s human plans failed him that he, purged of mere earthly longing, could emerge as the poet of hope and desire and mercy.” [. . .] –Jason M. Baxter, America, the Jesuit Review, August 20, 2021 (retrieved January 12, 2022)
Read the full text of Baxter’s article here.
Also, check out our post on Baxter’s book about the Divine Comedy here.
Tony’s Kansas City Blog, “Guy Fieri Reveals 3rd Circle Of Hell Replica In Kansas City Power & Light Restaurant” (January 24, 2019)
“This isn’t news but every broadcaster in KCMO mentioned it anyway, take a look at this new joint wherein locals can order gourmet fake tacos.
“And then there’s this passage that might or might not be a review: ‘Upon reaching the Third Circle of Hell, Dante and Virgil find souls of gluttons who are overlooked by a worm-monster Cerberus. Sinners in this circle of Hell are punished by being forced to lie in a vile slush that is produced by never-ending icy rain.'” —Tony’s Kansas City, January 24, 2019 (retrieved November 27, 2021)
Read more about Guy Fieri’s new restaurant here.
NY Times Review: Dante’s Inferno Play, adapted/directed by Robert Scalan (1998)
“Dante’s Inferno, a highly condensed and remarkably theatrical staged version of the 14th-century epic that takes Dante, played here by Bill Camp and guided by the poet Virgil (Reg E. Cathey), on a fantastic voyage into Hades. Mr. Willis and Leslie Beatty complete the cast, portraying an assortment of damned souls in this economical, two-hour production. And these two — how shall we put it? — have all the fun.
“Like more tormented versions of the sad sacks Dorothy collects on the yellow brick road, they confide their tales of woe to the visitor from another world. Mr. Willis and Ms. Beatty cringe and shudder, shrink and quake, affixing faces worthy of compassion to the teeming multitudes of the Underworld. As the acting opportunities pile up, the surprise of this Inferno becomes clear: even if it is not quite a fully realized verse play, it is much more than a staged reading.
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