Mid-week Anger: Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Mid-week Anger: Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965)

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The Kenneth Anger films discussed as part of this project are available for purchase in a collection from Fantoma.

View into the theater of chromeIt's been a long time since I've been shocked by a director's work.  I don't mean this in a pearl clutching, self-fanning, "Oh won't someone think of the children" mean of shock.  Instead the films of Kenneth Anger have, so far, thrown together so many elements of pop culture the effect has been dizzying.  Lucifer Rising was the likely apex of this method of film making and Scorpio Rising a decent offshoot of it.

But it wasn't until Kustom Kar Kommandos (and no, I'm not abbreviating that) that I realized just how much fun I've had being shocked by the wild assemblage of pop art and music.  Kommandos, in anyone else's cinematic canon, could be read as a breather of sorts.  Instead of going to the extremes of sex and fetishism Anger lets his camera luxuriate over both the body of the young man who owns the wonderfully pink and chrome vehicle and the vehicle itself.Luxurious floofIt's the sort of film Anger must have grinned while filming because this hunk of metal able to accelerate to deadly speeds is treated as delicately as a first time sexual partner.  The man takes a bit of fluff which could easily be appropriated as a kinky toy and gently rubs each part of the vehicle.  If Scorpio Rising was fetishizing the process of becoming a biker, gay or no, then this is a delicate sexual act expressed as car maintenance.

Sex as car maintenance is this holy ritual with a gate-keeper.  I love the slow tilt up as the man was caressing one part of his car and we see the drapes which adorn the rear window.  Setting aside safety concerns (and lax rear view window laws apparently), it's the sort of loving detail which says a lot about how the man views his car.  There's the loving caress, sure, but the drapes signify you're entering into an experience that borders on theatrical.  One that Anger reveals in an image so perfect I had to laugh at its sincerity.The vaginaliest seats everWhen we finally see the interior of the car we see that both driver and passenger would be sitting in what strongly resemble vaginal lips.  The driver would reach out and adjust dials while manipulating the firm stick shift - all chrome and shiny.  The sexual connotations of the moment he drives away and the gentle soundtrack of "Dream Lover" gives way to the rough grind of the engine are enough to make Freud do barrel rolls in his grave.  The car - that enduring American symbol of freedom and heading off to find yourself - is a traveling soft pink vagina mobile with thrusting components.

It must give the man great comfort and Anger said it was only by chance he met him.  What remains isn't the most shocking of Anger's films but one I may have enjoyed the most.  Kommandos is a loving ode to a man, his vehicle, and the way we manage to hide our sexual comfort in plain sight.  I wasn't shocked this time, but damn if I didn't have the biggest grin on my face the whole time.

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Posted by Andrew

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