ENTHUSIASM: HOLLYWOOD BABYLON
This second instalment of ENTHUSIASM, our bold new series of repertory screenings dedicated to showing film on film, is a rare chance to see two films from the dark side of Hollywood, in their original, analogue formats.
Child–actor–turned–pioneering underground gay filmmaker and author of the scandalous poison pen letter Hollywood Babylon, Kenneth Anger is a monument of independent cinema, whose impact on the art form cannot be overstated.
The mythology that has grown around him has many sources, from his involvement with Satanism, the occult, astrology and the pop world of Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull and Jimmy Page, to the announcement of his own death in the pages of the Village Voice, and the destruction, loss and banning of his films amidst a slew of obscenity charges. At the heart of all this controversy is a filmmaker of prodigious talent, whose skill and imagination create films of great visual force, influencing artists such as Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
In Rabbit’s Moon, playing here on 16mm in its original 1950 version, Anger’s sweetly subversive Pierrot causes chaos with a magic lantern in a tinselled wood. Lost for many years after Anger was chased off the set of the French films studio when they learnt of what he was doing, Rabbit’s Moon remains one of the most haunting and playful films about black magic ever omitted to celluloid.
Our main feature is David Lynch’s surreal 1997 horror Lost Highway – a blistering psychogenic–fugue narrative that sees mysterious videotapes, classic cars, Kaftka-esque metamorphoses and Marilyn Manson in a graphic porno film admist the seedy underbelly of a noir–infused Los Angeles.
Bill Pullman plays Fred Madison, a chain-smoking jazz saxophonist who finds himself accused of dismembering his beautiful wife Renee (Patricia Arquette). Whilst on death row, Fred inexplicably morphs into a young car mechanic named Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty), leading a completely different life with no memory or idea of what’s happened to him.
When Pete is released, his and Fred’s paths begin to cross in a surreal, metaphysical web of crime, sex and psychological turmoil, accompanied by one of the greatest soundtracks of the 20th century. The cast is led by Patricia Arquette and Bill Pullman in career–best performances and features an extraordinary supporting cast including Richard Pryor, Robert Blake, Gary Busey, Jack Nance and Black Flag’s Henry Rollins.