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Could there be any more pitiful irony than that cinematic godhead Kenneth Anger, visionary master of the dark arts, has been trapped within a slapdash blue-screen-and-talking-head documentary that could barely past muster as a DVD bonus feature? Anthology can’t be blamed for running Anger Me, since Anger is far too important to cinema (or American counterculture, for that matter) for their programmers to pass it up. But there’s little here that will inform the true avant-fan, and much sloppy filigree that will annoy. Aside from a brief introduction from Jonas Mekas (shot in Anthology’s office), Anger Me consists of a single extended monologue from Anger himself, chronicling his Hollywood childhood (when, he claims, he played the part of the Changeling Prince in Max Reinhardt’s Midsummer Night’s Dream), then passing through the making of each of his films, from the adolescent eroto-explosions of Fireworks to his final great work, the Bobby Beausoleil–scored Lucifer Rising, and ending with a coda on his recent document of Aleister Crowley’s paintings, The Man We Want to Hang. Though much of the material will be familiar to anyone who has read the various tomes covering Anger’s career—or seen the skillful raconteur himself in person—a few rarer tidbits do emerge: Anger’s re-hand-tinting of a print of
Battleship Potemkin for Francis Ford Coppola, for example, in order to return a single flag to its original red hue. But the documentary’s persistent counterpointing of brilliant Anger films with wretched canned doodle-pop is an affront to everything holy. One of the most important artists of the last century deserves far better than this: Anger Me will anger you, too.