Cowards Bend the Knee (or The Blue Hands)

2003 silent soap opera

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A hockey player knocks up his girlfriend and takes her for an abortion in the back room of a beauty salon. During the procedure, he falls for the daughter of the owner of the beauty salon and runs off with her. Unfortunately, she won't allow him to touch her until the death of her father is avenged. A hand transplant operation takes place, followed by murder and sex. And there are some hockey player wax figurines that come to life.

This ten-part short feature was originally intended to be shown in a museum, each six-minute chunk shown through a separate peephole. That would have been an annoying way to watch a movie. I'd predict that a lot of people would be annoyed by the style of this anyway. It's silent, but even those used to silent movies might find the strange techniques--off-putting camera angles, repetitious movements, rapid-fire movements, lengthy but hilarious title cards--a little too strange. And, of course, there's the subject matters covered in this thing, a wacky hodgepodge that could only come from the mind of Guy Maddin. Jen, who started watching this movie with me, was done when the dicks made their first appearance. In the dicks' defense, I think she was about to call it quits even before they showed up. I found it all hilarious, maybe the funniest Maddin movie I've seen. Lots to love here--hockey seizures in sperm samples, beauty salon bordellos, 5-minute breast grope attempts, a gorgeous slow procession to Beethoven's 7th, titular blue hands and warm pies, forced combing, a smoking and corset-wearing abortionist, blind grandmothers, shampoo murders, faked hand transplants, ghost whores, fisting, an ice breast, the feeding of wax hockey player figurines, a questionable check for a pulse, and an Orlacian shower butt poke. Yeah, mostly the typical ingredients for a soap opera.  And the typing of "Orlacian shower butt poke" reminds me why I watch movies in the first place. My favorite scene was one in which Maddin imagines what a late-20's sex scene's sound effects would have been like. Completely ridiculous, but it made me giggle like a fourteen-year-old with a monocle. Definitely find this if you're a Guy Maddin fan already, and it might not be the worst place to start if you want to dig into his work and have a high tolerance for weirdness.

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