1. A pretty good animated and modernized movie version of Dante’s Inferno has been running on the Ovation cable network. It’s based on the excellent comic book version (set in squalid Los Angeles, California) by Marcus Sanders, Doug Harvey and Sandow Birk.
2. A long forgotten film version of Yukio Mishima’s short story Patriotism has been rereleased. This is not the Paul Schrader film Mishima, which depicts this author’s death by seppuku, but rather a Japanese film based on Mishima’s intense short story about a young couple’s final night on Earth after a failed military coup.
3. This was a surprise: I’ve never been much interested in Jonathan Safran Foer, but my daughter and I caught Liev Schrieber’s film version of Everything is Illuminated on TV on a rainy weekend afternoon and liked it very much. The director’s heavy-handed style and Elijah Wood’s highly affected and artificial performance have to be forgiven before you can start to become absorbed in the plot, but the story of the lost Ukrainian village in the field of sunflowers makes up for these cinematic sins. Maybe I’ll even read the book.
4. I watched HBO’s Generation Kill, based on the book by Evan Wright. I found it difficult to follow at first — the filmmakers obviously share Robert Altman’s affection for mumbled dialogue — but in the later episodes a few strong plotlines and a few messages began to emerge. By the mini-series’ strong finale, shadows of Paths of Glory, Stanley Kubrick’s great bitter parody of World War I, can be seen. Worth catching on DVD or rerun, if you missed it the first time.
5. Okay, enough of the boob tube! What New York City really needs is a Queens Book Festival, but the 2008 Brooklyn Book Festival should be pretty good too. LitKicks faves among the participants include: Arthur Nersesian, Ian MacKaye, Thurston Moore, Johnny Temple, Amy Shearn, George Pelecanos, Jacob Weisberg, Joanna Hershorn, Patricia Smith, Chuck Klosterman, Ed Park, Tao Lin, Warren Adler and (in a fitting tribute) the late Joseph Heller.
9. “Jazz drenched dharma boogie”! Beat poet Michael McClure’s new band Big Mix includes longtime collaborator Ray Manzarek on keyboards and adds a full ensemble, including Lou Reed/Ratdog bassist Rob Wasserman. And they’re on MySpace.
11. Poet Jerome Rothenberg has a new blog, Poems and Poetics.