Eaux d'Anger - Page 2

A kinder, gentler DVD magus leads a magic-lantern tour

While 1964's Scorpio Rising is partly renowned for its subliminal qualities, trances invoked via overt repetition are another Anger motif, most at the fore in the lunar views of Rabbit's Moon (1950–71; 1979) and the solar worship of Lucifer Rising.

Fantasma's volumes of Anger's films may not expose their mysteries or hocus-pocus, but the DVDs further reveal Anger's impact on equally iconic but less experimental directors. That Martin Scorsese and David Lynch drew from Anger's pop soundtracking is obvious — but one could also argue that the all-American family-room surrealism at the climax of Fireworks predates the Christmas tree rampage at the start of John Waters's Female Trouble. Influence runs both ways, of course, and Aleister Crowley's on Anger is also apparent, thanks to the presence of Anger's 2002 slide show appreciation of Crowley's frankly lousy paintings and drawings, The Man We Want to Hang, in volume two. The same wild eyes and crazed gazes that Crowley loved to draw dominate some of acolyte Anger's far superior films, Inauguration and Invocation in particular.

Anger's DVD commentary shares next to nothing about his soundtrack choices or his interpersonal dynamics with the many men who have stepped before his camera lens. But he does utter select camp trivia, witty anecdotes, and even symbolic explanations without giving away magic tricks. He repeatedly praises his interior designer grandmother, whom he considers a sorceress. He says Louise Brooks told him Eaux d'Artifice was his sexiest film, and that the film's midget protagonist was discovered by Federico Fellini. He gossips that the star of his Puce Moment was a mistress of Lázaro Cárdenas, claims that Inauguration star de Brier "was rumored to be the bastard son of the King of Romania," says Invocation actor Sir Francis Rose is the in-joke inspiration behind a certain famous Gertrude Stein line, and notes with a tinge of irritation that Jimmy Page outbid him at a Sotheby's auction of Crowley paintings. "Cameron thought she was a witch, and I'm in agreement with that idea," Anger says about the late painter-poet whose flame-haired appearance is the most vibrant of all of Inauguration's many grand entrances.

Only Lucifer Rising star Marianne Faithfull seems capable of sparking some off-the-cuff impish remarks from the cozy incarnation of Anger who recorded commentary for Fantoma's DVDs. During a travel guide's discussion of Lucifer Rising's journey through Icelandic, Egyptian, and Germanic Black Forest sites, Anger takes the time to softly but repeatedly chide Faithfull — perhaps because she mocks him in her autobiography? According to Anger, the mosquitoes of Egypt loved to bite Faithfull's "tender inner thighs." But that tidbit is nothing in comparison with an anecdote he shares about her disguising heroin as face powder in order to smuggle it into Egypt. Whether this is true or false, it's impossible not to laugh out loud when Anger states that, had this ploy been revealed, he and Faithfull would have faced a fate far different than — though just as dramatic as — the stories they've gone on to live: death by firing squad.

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