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September 28, 2007

The Films of Kenneth Anger, Vol. 2

scorpio rising.jpg
Scorpio Rising (1964)

Kenneth Anger - 1964/1965/1969/1979/1981
Fantoma Region 1 DVD

The good news is that the second DVD of films by Kenneth Anger is now available. But after years of discussion about the mythic content in Anger's films, the filmmaker's own commentary virtually reduces some of this work to glorified home movies. While some of Anger's comments about the making of his films is of interest, there are times when it seems to be better to allow the work to speak for itself.

A particular case in point would be Scorpio Rising. That Anger met some bikers in Brooklyn while staying at Marie Menken's apartment helps give the film some geographical context. I mostly liked the film for its soundtrack, a selection of pre-Beatles rock tunes that begins with Ricky Nelson's Fools Rush In and ends with The Surfari's Wipe Out. The music is used as a commentary on the preening bikers, with the best bit being excerpts from a movie about Jesus playing against Little Peggie March singing I Will Follow Him. Anger tells about how he accidentally wound up with the movie produced by the Lutheran Church, and it is a pretty funny anecdote.

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Rabbit's Moon (1979)

Too often, Anger makes the point that the bikers he filmed are working class guys who spend most of their money on their bikes, and whatever is left on their girlfriends. I'm not sure who Anger is trying to convince here.

A faster, skip-printed version of Rabbit's Moon is more fun and less precious than the original version. Made for Stan Brakhage's son, the new version has a rock soundtrack. Anger also has some interesting comments on his short and funny Kustom Kar Kommandos. I don't have anything to add to what I wrote about Lucifer Rising, Invocation for my Demon Brother or The Man We Like to Hang. One has to read the comments by Martin Scorsese, Gus Van Sant and Guy Maddin to return to the myth and mythmaking of Kenneth Anger. Maybe in discussing his own films, Anger is being modest. It is in the text of the filmmakers who admire Anger that unfamiliar viewers may understand the importance of this icon from those long ago days of underground cinema.

lucifer rising.jpg
Lucifer Rising (1981)

Posted by peter at September 28, 2007 03:10 AM


Peter--As you're a connoisseur of "coffee breaks" in films, I thought I'd mention that there are several great ones in Chabrol's "Merci Pour Le Chocolat". (Eating and drinking in general being big with Claude...)

Posted by: girish at September 28, 2007 08:28 AM