The Films of Kenneth Anger Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
11Feb/160

Mid-week Anger: Lucifer Rising (1972)

Enjoy the piece? Please share this article on your platform of choice using the buttons above, or join the Twitch stream here!

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

THOSE TITLESI've come to the end, for now, of my look at the movies of Kenneth Anger.  In a curious twist I wonder how my reaction to Lucifer Rising might have been if I didn't spend the last couple of months watching Anger's work.  All the elements of Lucifer Rising are assembled from the different elements of style Anger assembled for his earlier movies.  We've got the multicultural imagery akin to Rabbit's Moon, the subtext of Fireworks, the fragmented editing combined with rock star soundtrack of Invocation of my Demon Brother, and an apocalyptic outlook similar to Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.

My reaction to Lucifer Rising was like eating a lackluster stew.  I sense all the familiar ingredients and, individually, love them.  But when Anger throws them together in Lucifer Rising my reaction grew from interest to boredom.  This throws me for a bit of a loop since I enjoy so much of what Anger puts into his films and some of the incidental buzz about Lucifer Rising I've gleaned recently made me excited to watch it.

4Feb/160

Mid-Week Anger: Rabbit’s Moon Recut (1979)

Enjoy the piece? Please share this article on your platform of choice using the buttons above, or join the Twitch stream here!

Rabbit RecutI'll be brief for this week's Kenneth Anger as it's a recut and rescored edition of Rabbit's Moon.  The previous iteration of Rabbit's Moon immediately became one of my most beloved cinematic experiences not just of Anger's career but of my last few years of watching movies.  This new version isn't without its charm, but the quickened pace and new soundtrack create a sort of live action Looney Tunes experience that I couldn't completely engage with.

Now, reminding me of Looney Tunes is never a bad thing.  It's just that the original Rabbit's Moon struck such a bizarre and wonderful chord with its doo-wop soundtrack, beautifully artificial staging, and multicultural approach to visuals and acting styles.  These things are all still technically present in the new cut but Anger quickens the pace of the story by removing frames and editing out a lot of the ebb and flow of desire from the original cut.

27Jan/160

Mid-week Anger: Invocation of my Demon Brother

Enjoy the piece? Please share this article on your platform of choice using the buttons above, or join the Twitch stream here!

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

The real human centipedeIt was only one week ago I wrote of Kenneth Anger’s Kustom Kar Kommandos and how much fun I was watching his movies.  I don’t know if you’d call it hubris, ironic, or revelatory but the joy I’ve processed in his movies was replaced by pain and nausea this week.  Invocation of My Demon Brother is as deeply unsettling an experience as I’ve had with movies, and in its own simultaneously hypnotic and off-putting fashion may be the best movie about the poison which infected America during the Vietnam War.

Anger primes us that Invocation, perhaps more than any of his previous work, is to be felt rather than intellectually processed.  That can mean so many nebulous things, so focus on the first two images is important.  We first see a trio of circles arranged in a pattern my religious upbringing instantly coded as father / son / holy spirit.  Then the devil arrives in a subtle fashion as the simplicity of the trinity gives way to a textured painting shot in a close up so tight we can see the individual mounds of paint on the canvas.

21Jan/160

Mid-week Anger: Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965)

Enjoy the piece? Please share this article on your platform of choice using the buttons above, or join the Twitch stream here!

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.

13Jan/160

Mid-week Anger: Scorpio Rising (1963)

Enjoy the piece? Please share this article on your platform of choice using the buttons above, or join the Twitch stream here!

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

How sexy are you making thisIn post-Eisenhower America we created a strict fiction among well-to-do whites about what proper gender roles are.  Sex was a binary, and whether you were born a man or woman determined your standing in society and what was expected of you.  Then as the waves of feminism then queer theory came rolling in the gendered distinctions began to blue as we unfurled the assumptions made of men and women.  Further advances in biology and social theory revealed true intersex people or those who had their sex assigned at birth.

I'm all for many of these advancements, but one I'm hesitant to accept is the idea that everyone is a little gay or no one is completely straight.  It places an undue emphasis on sexual desire instead of identity and, strangely enough, eliminates nuance by assuming everyone is in the shade of grey.  This is important when talking about Scorpio Rising because it's sexy.  My god is it sexy.  But it's the identity and aesthetic aspects of Scorpio Rising which up my blood temperature a tad, less a wish to jump on the admittedly attractive leather-bound men who seem to be the primary subject of Kenneth Anger's bewitching direction.