enneth nger


Okay, I know of Kenneth Anger because a friend was his editorial assistant on the Hollywood Babylon II book.  I  grew to inordinately love Mr. Anger's work when Kim's video starting renting out the mystic fire VHS editions of his films.  Not only did Mr. Anger play Janecek music behind the pleasure dome film and had that hilarious "They Came in the Night" song which I had never heard until seeing "Rabbit Moon," but he included one of my favorite songs of all time, Gene McDaniel's singing Goffin and King's "Point of No Return," in "Scorpio Rising."  The paragraph below refers to Mr. Anger's assimilation of Aleister Crowley beyond Crowley's contributions to English Literature.     

His assimilations of  Crowley and British Mysticism heighten awareness of the odd patterns in celebrity attire, and, of course, of the outrageous twists of fate associated with the cult of celebrity (ie., Mr. Polanski and Ms. Tate).  

I share his sensitivity to the mysticism of cinema (the magic lantern).  There is a moment in Fox's The Razor's Edge where Gene Tierney is sitting on the couch spouting words revealing (or suggesting) an incapacity to love, yet she appears to transform into pure, unadulterated, neither good nor evil, beauty.  That's my example of Hollywood mysticism.  Anger provides many more.  He made beautiful occult inducing films.   Look elsewhere for basic particulars.  Cinema VII offers the following: 


Asahi Shimbun June 15, 2002
Copyright 2002 Financial Times Information
All rights reserved
Global News Wire 
Copyright 2002 Asahi Shimbun Publishing Co  
Asahi Shimbun

June 15, 2002

LENGTH: 651 words


BODY:  The American underground filmmaker was one of the central lights of Screen Memories,'' the well-regarded exhibition that just ended at the Art Tower Mito. The Anger momentum now shifts to Tokyo and a solo exhibition at SCAI The Bathhouse. The prestigious Yanaka district gallery is to international artists what the Budokan is to arena rock bands and the show, rather portentously, is called Icons.'' Anger is a bit of a counterculture star himself, and the exhibitions-perhaps not coincidentally-are appearing when word has it that the director's next project will include Vincent Gallo, the fashion model-actor-director-singer who's huge in Japan

At over 70, Anger is shaping up to be the next big thing

Be warned, though: Not one moving image is on offer in this show

As in the Director's Cut'' show on John Waters last year, Icons'' instead casts Anger in the role of a visual artist, tracing his filmography through still frames blown into huge photographs

Dreamy and lurid, these are pieces of a world only Hollywood's monster-child could have created

A child-actor who grew up in Los Angeles, Anger claims to have made his screen debut at age 5, playing the Changeling Prince in the MGM version of A Midsummer Night's Dream'' (1935). No one is sure because his name never made the credits, but another sort of fame lay in store As a teenager in the 1940s, Anger began shooting his own movies, making the homoerotic Fireworks,'' featuring a cast of unknown, muscular sailors, while his parents were away for the weekend. Along with other early works such as Puce Moment'' (1949), Rabbit's Moon'' (1950) and Eaux d'Artifice''(1953), Anger's films are now considered the starting point of American avant-garde cinema. They have been compared to Jean Cocteau's surreal cinema, and influenced the likes of David Lynch, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Derek Jarman, Francis Coppola and Martin Scorsese

Anger, on the other hand, is influenced by the occult writings of Aleister Crowley and literally interprets his alchemy of sight and sound in films such as Lucifer Rising,'' Invocation of My Demon Brother'' and Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome'' as his practice of black magick.'' The mainstream public might better know Anger through Hollywood Babylon,'' his tell-all book of the depravities of Golden Age Hollywood stars, which couldn't be printed in America when it first came out in 1957

Or they might know Anger through his musical collaborator, Bobby Beausoleil, who wrote the soundtrack to Lucifer Rising'' before being sentenced to life in prison for taking part in 1969's Charles Manson cult murders

There are no pentagrams on the floor at the Bathhouse, yet there's a sense that the photos have come to see the visitors rather than the other way around. Looking like oversaturated sand paintings, they hint less at being movie stills than immense tarot cards. In this hall of votaries, an enraptured Yvonne Marguis plays the Star'' (from Puce Moment''), a green-faced Samson de Brier appears as Lord Shiva (from Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome''), and writer Anais Nin, her head in a round bird cage, is the Neolithic goddess Astarte, better known as Demeter to the Greeks (also from Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome'')

Chosen to hold the center is an image of singer Marianne Faithfull. She appears drained and the tears beneath her eyes have yet to dry. Anger claims to have taken the portrait just after a suicide attempt and that the scarves bandaging her wrists are his. Again, it could be a true magic moment, or another act of Anger self-creation

The Kenneth Anger Icons'' exhibition continues until July 13 at SCAI The Bathhouse (03-3821-1144), a 10-minute walk from Nippori Station or a 15-minute walk from Ueno Station, both on the JR Yamanote Line. Open 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Admission free.


LOAD-DATE: June 14, 2002

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