Cowards Bend the Knee plus Guy Maddin shorts

Director: Guy Maddin

The partly autobiographical Cowards Bend the Knee started out as a gallery installation but works equally well as a short feature divided into six parts. If fiction is sometimes barely disguised autobiography, Cowards Bend the Knee is its mirror image, twisted and poisoned wish-fulfilment. Maddin casts ‘himself’ as a hockey sniper made lily-livered by mother and daughter femme fatales, and resurrects his father as the team’s radio broadcaster and his own romantic antagonist. Set in a shadow-infused hockey arena and a Mabuse-like beauty salon/abortion clinic lined with two-way mirrors, the plot tells of sordid family secrets. Maddin fixates on his characters’ groping and fisting expressionist paws, bathing them in ethereal light and chopping them into dazzling micro-montages. Lurid, frenzied momentsof impulsive violence and carnivorous sexuality lend this bewitchingly onanistic work the sublime naughtiness of an antique, hand-cranked skin flick.
Plus The Dead Father, Maddin’s first film, in which the resentment and yearning of the eldest son of a dead patriarch conspire to bring the errant father back for periodic visits in a partially living state. (Canada, 1985. Black and white. 25 mins.)
Plus The Heart of the World, Maddin’s most acclaimed short and a brilliant pastiche of Soviet agitprop cinema of the 1920s. (Canada, 2000. Black and white. 6 mins.)

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