Monday, April 03, 2006

Saddest movie in the world

I have found an auteur who is patently NOT for me, even more than Cameron Crowe. If there was ever a director who personal aesthetic was strictly designed to be antonymical to whatever I dig, it would be Guy Maddin, Winnipeg's most famous self-exiled arthouse film director.

My experience with this weekend's fare, "Cowards Bend the Knee," was not so great. There was a plot, it seems -- Sophocles's "Electra" -- but it was buried under a massive rockslide of over-affected aethesticism. The bones of the action involve a beauty shop, a 1940s hockey team, shower homoeroticism, hand dismemberment, a jacked-up doctor, and wax statues that come to life like golems. Did I mention this is a silent picture... made in 2003?

All of this made, quite literally, NO SENSE whatsoever, regardless of the order you place these disparate elements in. I applaud the visual photographic skill that Maddin exercised in creating this, but it's simply too abstract to plug into and enjoy. Maddin is most definitely making movies for ONLY himself, because they seem to conform to rhythms and patterns that are recognizable only to him.

I would actually levy that same claim at Matthew Barney, but there is a "visual poetry" (as others have called it) to his work that makes it appealing in spite of the impenetrability. Whereas Maddin seems to be intently following a plot for quote-unquote cohesion, Barney's management plot is an absolute afterthought. Just follow the vaseline.