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Revenge is Sweet: The Bitterness of Audition

By Robin Wood.

Auditionstands apart from the rest of Miike Takashi’s other films to date: this seems to be the general consensus, and it is confirmed by the three other films by him I have seen. It is the only one of the four that interests – more than interests, fascinates – me.

In general, his reputation (or ‘cult’ status) appears to rest on his readiness to push further and further the boundaries of portrayable violence, ‘grossout’ cinema, which doubtless has its sociological interest within a civilization (and I don’t mean only Japanese) that seems to be in the process of accepting (and rather enjoying, even celebrating) its headlong race towards extinction: a kind of Japanese Tarantino, perhaps marginally less complacent and self-congratulatory. (I should confess here that I have no right to say this, since I have not seen Kill Bill, Volume 1(2003), but after reading the reports, both positive and negative, and with dire memories of Pulp Fiction(1994) still lingering like the aftermath of severe food poisoning, I feel I would be wasting my time).

To put it concisely: The other Miike films are disturbing for what they have to tell us about the state of contemporary civilization; they are not in the least disturbing in themselves, operating on some fantasy level of annihilation, with ‘comic-book’ violence. Audition, on the other hand, is authentically disturbing, and infinitely more horrifying: the first time I watched it – on DVD, at home, after warnings I had received – I was repeatedly tempted, through the last half hour, to turn it off. It is one of those few films, like Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom(Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma, 1975) that are almost as unwatchable as the newsreels – of Auschwitz, of the innocent victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Vietnam, victims of Nazi or American dehumanization, which today, under President Bush, seem not so far apart.

That, however, is a relatively simple issue: the Nazis, the American administration, were dehumanized monsters (who else could knowingly drop an atomic bomb on a city populated predominantly by women, children and the aged? Surely not a human being). The two central figures of Audition are very much human beings – albeit living in our immediately recognizable culture (whether Japanese or American doesn’t matter, beyond local cultural difference). They are not ‘guilty’ – in the way in which the Nazis and the American warmongers were guilty. They are simply contaminated by the cultural environment, past and present. They don’t deserve their respective fates, except as sacrificial victims of our civilization.

Audition and Vertigo
For all their obvious surface differences, Audition on close inspection offers striking structural parallels with Vertigo(1958). I am not necessarily implying any direct connection, even on a subconscious level (though it would be surprising if Miike has not seen Hitchcock’s film – everyone else has). What interests me here is something more fundamental than the tracing of influences: the recurrence of this structure within superficially distinct cultures (both, however, capitalist and male-dominated), which suggests that it has a universal relevance today, touching upon deep and sensitive strains of male desire, male anxiety, male guilt, male fears, male masochism…

Both films were made by men, both are about ‘guilty’ women who do some very bad things and are finally punished for them, both male protagonists are presented sympathetically: neither is in any blatant, obvious way ‘male chauvinist’, though neither is exactly untarnished. Male chauvinism remains, despite the feminist movement (which petered out far short of its initial goals), a seemingly universal blight. Juxtaposed, the two male protagonists offer fascinating insights into the current plight of heterosexual relations.

If you look at the characters in the two films there’s no immediately obvious resemblance. But if you reduce each film to a structural skeleton, parallels become clear very quickly. Consider the following:

1. Prelude (separated from the main body of the film by a specified seven years [Audition] or an unspecified few months [Vertigo]): the male protagonist experiences a profound shock which changes his whole way of life (the death of his wife, the rooftop accident). In both cases this is experienced as a sense of loss that has to be recuperated, whether swiftly (Scottie) or after a lengthy period of hibernation (Aoyama).

2. The male protagonists. Each is at a loose end, waiting for something to happen: Scottie, after the opening accident, lacks social definition, is ready to ‘wander’ in search of something undefined that will give him a sense of selfhood; Aoyama’s aspirations are less romantic, but his placid home life (with a son about to reach manhood and showing an interest in possible romantic attachments) and his apparently more or less ‘routine’ work leave him dissatisfied and uneasy, with the possibility of an empty and lonely future.

3. The female protagonist. Most obviously, she is simply ‘not what she seems’: ‘Madeleine’ is a construct, Asami is not the sweet, helpless, passive, gentle little creature by whom Aoyama is captivated even before he meets her (rather as Scottie is predisposed toward ‘Madeleine’ by Gavin Elster’s story). In both cases she presents herself as deeply vulnerable, very much in need of the protection of a strong man: for the male, the ideal temptation/love object, the woman who needs him and whom he can consequently believe himself to be dominating.

4. The alternative partner. In both films the male protagonist is offered a choice, somewhat insistent and aggressive (Midge in Vertigo), more passive but always there, waiting, hovering (the secretary in Audition). Though the characters again are very different (Midge is sophisticated, attractive, independent, a ‘career woman’, the secretary plain, subservient, a mere employee without apparent ambitions beyond marrying her boss), yet each seems suitable for the position of partner to their respective males, Midge as Scottie’s equal, the secretary as humble, home-bound, dutiful and undemanding wife. With both there is a past history: Midge and Scottie were once engaged until she broke it off (apparently disturbed by his lack of real commitment); Aoyama and the secretary (as revealed in the climactic hallucinatory sequence) once had drunken sex together at an all-night office party; both women have been waiting, never attaching themselves to other partners. Both lack precisely what the man most desires: a certain mystery, fragility, vulnerability, that sense of ‘needing to be looked after’ that brings out the heterosexual male’s protective instincts and thereby guarantees his manhood.

5. The Tempter. This is far more obvious and explicit in Vertigo, where Gavin Elster is clearly one of Hitchcock’s ‘devil’ figures who seems to know more about the male protagonist’s weaknesses and needs than he does. But it is Elster who sets Scottie up with Madeleine and it is Yoshikawa, the film producer, who sets Aoyama up for the spurious ‘Audition’, in which the contestants believe they are applying for a part in a movie but are really there to be inspected and selected as Aoyama’s future wife, rather as female slaves were once lined up on disply to serve new masters. The producer at least ‘means well’ (as Norman Bates remarks in Psycho[1960], ‘everyone means well’): he is performing a kindness for an old friend. He soothes Aoyama’s legitimate worries about the morality of it by telling him, not very convincingly, that he does indeed intend to cast a film as well, but this is obviously an improvized afterthought, and the film hints that Aoyama only believes it because he wants to, to quiet his conscience.

6. The Outcome. In Vertigo the woman dies, in Audition she is severely injured; in both the man survives – just. He is older and (perhaps) wiser – or merely disillusioned. At least Scottie is not subject3ed to the woman’s hideous revenge, though he may be emotionally and psychologically scarred for life. Madeleine/Judy was merely a victim (the most important deviation in the films’ correspondences), whereas Asami (with no Gavin Elster behind her, acting as a free agent) is able to enact upon the male the most appalling revenge ever shown on a cinema screen.

Note: Only one significant character in Audition has no equivalent in Vertigo: Aoyama’s son, Shigehiko. He can be read, to a certain extent, as representing a healthier possibility for the future, though Miike subtly undermines even this possibility: he has inherited something of the traditional male attitude to women (see his gesture of male complicity to his father, behind his girlfriend’s back, in the scene where he brings her home to dinner, or his later casual remarks about ‘not understanding girls’ when she talks about ‘a girl thing’). He also lacks his father’s depth of feeling and experience of loneliness, but he is still young.

A Thematical Study
Audition’s structural resemblance to Vertigo (the parallels indicating a basic common concern with male/female relations, with the tragic and devastating outcome of deception, misreadings, incompatible goals and desires) makes it possible to define clearly the specificities of Miike’s film, the uniqueness of its insights, the particular nature of the profound disturbance it engenders, a disturbance left unresolved by the refusal of full closure. I shall examine the film thematically rather than chronologically.

A. The Social Norms. The two characters who most clearly represent what one might call, for our culture, ‘normal’ behaviour are Yoshikawa and Shigehiko. The latter has the excuse of youth, but he already exhibits certain ‘learned’ attitudes to the female sex – casualness, a sense of superiority, condescension about ‘the girl thing’, etc.. Yoshikawa, having helped his friend select a possible second wife, immediately has rational qualms about the result, distrusting both the slightly mysterious young woman with the minimal resume and Aoyama’s instant and unquestioning obsession with her. His ‘common sense’ attitude, his solicitude for his friend, could have rescued Aoyama from his trap, from hideous physical torture , crippling, and a lifetime of psychological hurt. At the same time its basis in the ‘everyday’, in so-called ‘normal’ human relations, reveals his ignorance of the possible depths of human feeling, human experience: Aoyama’s romanticism, disastrous as it proves, has a grandeur about it that is beyond his grasp. One wants to say,with Hamlet, ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Yoshikawa, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’ – things deeper, richer, and infinitely more terrifying.

B. Child Abuse. It is difficult to think of many films that are centred upon child abuse, its direct effects on both abused and abuser, its potential indirect effects on society beyond. It is a subject most people don’t like to think about, perhaps because (if one considers its less extreme manifestations: not only sexual abuse and gratuitous sadism, but the physical abuse that is still regarded in many societies as a parental right, and the psychological abuse that seems endemic to the nuclear family itself) it is so widespread. (If I strike a full-grown man in the street he has the right to call the cops; if I strike a small child in my own home, he/she doesn’t; I think, if anything, that situation should be reversed). Asami, of course, is an extreme and special case: the specificity of the abuse has taught her that love and pain must be inseparable. She is at once the ‘monster’ of the traditional horror film and the most touching, vulnerable, and even, in a very real sense, innocent, character in the film, although she has performed acts of almost unimaginable horror and been the cause of appalling suffering to men who are at least nominally ‘innocent’ (not, of course, her stepfather, but Aoyama and the man in the sack, who is, I take it, Mr. Shibata, the man from the music industry). I think this is the film’s most remarkable achievement. There have been, in the history of the horror film, a number of sympathetic monsters, but none, surely, who moves us as Asami does, none who somehow, to the end, retains that sense of innocence.

C. Guilt. Against Asami’s appalling innocence the film sets Aoyama’s guilt. It is, of course, totally disproportionate to his punishment, and in fact has only marginally to do with his treatment of her. One might even say that it is his sense of guilt, rather than any guilt most of us might recognize as such. I think the fact that this film has such a powerful effect (it is one I shall never forget, even if I try to) is due less to its physical horrors than to its sense of the injustice of things: Aoyama’s transgressions (such as they are) must be read as ‘standard’ within our culture, he is never the ‘insensitive brute male’ who deserves whatever he gets. On one level, his guilt is that, in falling for Asami, he is being unfaithful to his wife – who died seven years ago. But this is compounded by his sense of guilt (unknown to the worldly Yoshikawa) in setting up the audition which he at least half-knows is a fake, bringing in dozens of aspiring young actresses for a film that will never be made. He has other guilts as well, as revealed in the ‘hallucination’ sequence when he has drunk the drugged whisky: he has ‘used’ available women, in the haphazard way men do. In that extraordinary, barely comprehensible sequence (I had to cheat and watch it on my DVD in slow motion to be sure what I was seeing), we learn that his constantly hovering secretary (whom we know would like to marry him, and of whose existence he scarcely seems aware) had sex with him at a drunken office party, and that he apparently also had sex (on the staircase?) with Rie, the married woman who comes in to cook and clean for him and his son… or did he just want to? – the guilt would perhaps be the same. (She tells him, as she prepares to leave after her work, ‘Males need female support, otherwise they can’t maintain’, and the words are repeated verbatim in the hallucination scene as they have sex on the stairs). But the worst of that guilt is surely that he is, essentially, a scrupulously monogamous man who has occasionally used complicit women as sex objects, and the punishment he receives is greatly in excess of his ‘crimes’.

At the basis of the guilt is Aoyama’s wife, Ryoko. She makes five appearances in the film, all very brief: in the pre-credit sequence, when she dies in the hospital, in two (ambiguous) memory/fantasy shots linked to Aoyama’s subjectivity, and twice in the hallucination sequence (the only time she speaks). The opening minutes beautifully and economically establish his dedication to her and to the sense of family, the moments of death shown simply in a slight movement of her lips and the ensuing straightening of the lifeline on the scanner beside the bed, a closeup of their clasped hands, the appearance of the young Shigehiko carrying his elaborate ‘get well’ offering, the father’s face almost expressionless as he stares at his son in a silence more eloquent than any demonstration of grief. Then seven years pass before Aoyama decides (after some prompting from his son) that he should remarry. At this stage of the film he shows no guilt at his minor sexual transgressions (of which the spectator knows nothing until much later), but his perusal of the audition applications immediately induces a certain anxiety: as he looks through them he feels compelled to turn Ryoko’s photograph (prominent on his desk) away from him. Thus Miike defines the situation clearly: his guilt is not about minor infidelities, which pose no threat to Ryoko’s memory. It is aroused by the sense of replacing his wife.

This reading is confirmed by the two insert shots, which hover between memory and fantasy. As his obsession with Asami develops, he sees Ryoko in a winter landscape, deep snow, moving behind a tree so that she is gradually obliterated, her expression sad, slightly reproachful: perhaps a memory (courtship? honeymoon? holiday?), but it carries clear symbolic meaning. The other insert shot occurs when he reads Asami’s application and learns of her irreparably damaged hips after studying ballet for twelve years. Miike cuts to a different angle, Ryoko’s photograph now prominent in the foreground: ‘It’s like accepting death’. (Earlier we learnt that Ryoko danced, though not ballet). Cut to shot of Ryoko sitting up in her hospital bed at night, distraught, long black hair past her shoulders, looking remarkably like an older Asami…and obviously not accepting death. This can hardly be a memory, as she is clearly alone: an imagined memory perhaps, provoked by Aoyama’s guilt feelings. The guilt is probably unnecessary, testifying more to his scrupulousness and sensitivity (and his continuing love for Ryoko) than to anything his wife might actually have felt about his remarriage. But the guilt makes him a candidate for punishment, which he subsequently receives out of all proportion.

D. Narrative Instability: reality, memory, fantasy, telepathy, hallucination. The opening sequences invite the unwary spectator into what appears to be the stable and consistent world of realist narrative to which mainstream cinema has accustomed us; Miike then proceeds systematically to undermine our sense of security, at first subtly and ambiguously, but gradually increasing our uncertainty until, in the climactic sequence of the hallucinatory drug, all possibility of rational, ‘realist’ explanation dissolves until, like Aoyama, we are floundering in a world in which all logic and coherence dissolve and we no longer know on what level we are to read the images, whether what follows is reality or fantasy. Certitude is restored only by the re-entry of common sense ‘normality’, in the person of Shigehiko. (Here again one can claim a tenuous parallel with Vertigo, when Hitchcock teases us with the question of Madeleine’s reality: her mysterious, unexplained disappearance from the Mckittrick Hotel, the brief moment in the Redwoods when she seems to have vanished, to be rediscovered behind a tree).

From Reality to Psychic Chaos
The movement from solid reality to some form of unstable, shifting psychic chaos can be traced as follows:
1. Asami in her room. The shot is dimly lit, cut in without explanation; we cannot be certain it is Asami, but for want of a better guess. It proves, however, to be the first of a series that runs through the first half of the film. At this point, no sack is visible.

2. Discrepancies in her story, especially involving Mr. Shibata, her contact in the music industry (during the Audition) whom later she confesses to Aoyama (in the restaurant) she has never met, and who (we learn) disappeared a year ago and has never been traced.

3. The memories/fantasies of Ryoko (above).

4. Changing restaurants: The conversation between Aoyama and Asami seems to be continuous (no indication of time-change, no hiatus in the dialogue), yet at first the restaurant where they are drinking beer has other customers, then a cut shows it to be empty aside from the couple, then they are abruptly in a different restaurant having dinner.

5. The series of cut-in shots of Asami hunched up against the wall of her room continues; her phone, on the floor, is always in view, and we know she is waiting for Aoyama to contact her. We see, in the background, the sack (just a sack, but obviously containing something). Then, when Aoyama (troubled by Toshikawa’s advice not to call her, at last phones, the sack, in the film’s first truly unsettling moment, moves and twists about violently, as if something (or someone?) had been awakened or (perhaps?) was desperately trying to make contact, begging to be let out…

6. Asami’s disappearance from the country hotel, their romantic tryst. Although they are sharing a room and a bed, Aoyama has been the perfect gentleman, never insisting, offering her every delay or alternative. She has responded by removing her clothes, showing him the scars on her thighs (because she wants him to see her imperfections? – because she thinks it will turn him on?), offering herself (‘Love me. Only me. Not like the others’), lying back on the bed. We assume they make love, though that seems called into question later, in a brief replay of the scene.

Asami’s disappearance is very difficult to interpret, in retrospect from the ending. Has she experienced, for the first time in her life, some kind of authentic tenderness, and leaves because she knows she will harm him? Or is she (as the rest of the film seems to suggest, without quite eradicating the other possibility) just leading him on toward the ‘satisfaction’ she really wants?. Does she disappear hoping to spare him the horrors of her desire, or does she already know that he will track her down, into a world of horror and pleasure that the surface world prefers not to know about? (In that she is quite accurate, his obsessive pursuit of her parallelling Scottie’s false resightings of Madeleine. Isn’t this one of the cinema’s most desolate and devastating love stories?).

7. The Stepfather, the red-hot sticks. We appear to be in the ‘real’ world of the investigation into a mystery. Yet Aoyama’s visit to the one connection he is given is, at the least, very odd: he has to break into an apparently abandoned building (lured on by the sound of a piano) through layers of impediment, to be ignored by the old man seated at the piano. He is, we eventually learn, Asami’s stepfather, and the red hot sticks with which he (lovingly) scarred her thigh are still burning beside the piano, as they burned in the past, though they appear now to serve no purpose…

8. The Stone Fish. Aoyama’s quest for truth (and Asami): first he has to break through barriers, now he has to descend two floors into darkness. The bar has been closed for a year (and we should recall that Mr. Shibata disappeared a year ago), since the murder of the female owner, who was involved with a ‘man from the music industry’. May we assume, in terms of narrative logic (for the film has its own complex logic, however unconventional), that she was the aunt who pushed Asami downstairs at the age of seven, when she broke her collarbone? We are not told this, but there seems no other detectable reason for Asami to have murdered a woman and she has not kept any body parts as remembrances. The man, on the other hand, is surely Mr. Shibata, one of Asami’s love objects, whom she has not killed but kept for what she perhaps mistakes for their mutual pleasure in torment. The woman’s body was dismembered but its parts were all there; three superfluous fingers and an extra ear baffled the investigators And there was also a superfluous tongue, which Aoyama then sees, wriggling out from the woodwork. (This, for me, is the film’s one lapse: the horror seems superfluous, and I can see no reason why Aoyama would hallucinate such a thing at that moment. It is the only moment in a film I have (reluctantly) come to love that seems gratuitous and slightly silly; it is shown from Aoyama’s POV, so can be taken as his hallucination, an omen he fails to respond to).

9. Hallucinations. When Aoyama comes home and drinks the doctored whisky, listening to the faintly unnerving message on the machine (‘I’m staying away tonight… Gang [the dog] is hiding under the house’), the film at last collapses its hesitations and uncertainties as to what is real, what isn’t, and what is psychologically real. Aoyama has access to scenes and places and events he couldn’t know about in the world of cold logic. The sequence is so complex (on both the technical and emotional levels) that it becomes almost an act of defiance for anyone to attempt to interpret it. I can but try.

Abuse
Aoyama’s question about her early life (repeated here vergatim from their earlier restaurant conversation) gets a very different response about her family when she was sent to her uncle’s (‘That was a terrible place. I only remember being abused. Cold baths in winter, I got pneumonia. She pushed me down the stairs, I broke my collarbone. I was seven years old’), and how she was abused by her stepfather (with the disabled legs – the red hot sticks): ‘But when I danced it purified the dark side of me. That’s the reason I never tried to kill myself’. As Aoyama says ‘I’ve been looking for someone like you’, he suddenly becomes aware of Ryoko, with friends, at the next table. He offers to introduce her to Asami (Ryoko warns ‘No! She isn’t good for you!’). Ryoko rises, Asami rises (but in her own room: ‘I want you. I want you right now’). She is sucking his cock; they are no longer in the restaurant. He closes his eyes and suddenly it’s the secretary gazing up at him from the floor (‘I expected something from you’). Then Asami (‘I’ll do anything to give you pleasure’) – and suddenly it’s his wife, in a sailor suit, and they are in Asami’s room (where he has never been, so this is something far beyond any ‘realist’ aesthetic). With Aoyama present (on what level of ‘reality’?), the unfortunate member of the music industry, Mr. Shibata, manages, in great agony, to clamber out of the sack in which he has (presumably) survived for the past year. He has (conspicuously) only three fingers on his hand, he can’t speak because his tongue is missing. As far as we know, he has done nothing worse than Aoyama has. But, if one is abused to and beyond the point of trauma as a young child, does one make distinctions among adults? Asami feeds him some sort of soup, or slop, and tells him (and Aoyama) ‘You only love me. Only me.’

The stepfather with the red hot sticks: ‘Asami, dance for me’ (Asami as child). Then Asami as woman lies, opens her legs for the torture. Aoyama appears, watches: Asami, with her metal wires, cuts off her stepfather’s head, telling him what he did to her; he appears to enjoy this, though she tells him ‘I’ve never felt unhappy because I’ve been unhappy all the time’. Cut to Rie, sex on the stairs (‘Males need female support..’), then Yoshikawa in the bar from the early scenes (‘Let’s have an Audition’). Brief shot of Ryoko, then Aoyama in the ‘Audition’ chair, ‘My son told me that I look old. Why don’t I remarry?’ The stepfather’s head falling off is intercut with Aoyama falling down, as the drug finally takes over.

The End
What can one say about what follows? The first time I saw the film (on DVD) I nearly switched off. It is a love scene – perhaps the most terrible love scene in the history of film. I had, though my endurance level is not the greatest, watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Last House on the Left (1972) without too great a problem and, indeed, with respect (which has survived and surpassed repeated viewings, both seeming to me essential films for our perhaps hopelessly decadent culture). But Miike’s film upset me to an extent beyond that: my first reaction was that I was sorry I’d seen it. If one descends to its core, it is a profound film about (among other things) the lingering and spreading effects of child abuse. The climactic scene is above all a consummation – of his misplaced guilt and of her perverted love, which she can express only through the most horrific torture (‘You can enjoy the pain and suffer incredibly’). She amputates the lower part of his left leg simply in order to keep him (‘You can’t go anywhere without feet’), and sticks the needles in his eyelids so that he can’t close his eyes – he might miss some of the pain/pleasure. By this point our sense of reality has been so thoroughly undermined that we can ask ourselves whether what we witness is ‘really’ happening or is another fantasy/hallucination. It is only with the reappearance of Shigehiko (the representative of unimaginative sanity) that we are forced to see it as ‘real’.

At the end of the film, after Shigehiko has thrown her down the stairs, she is still alive (though her back may be broken), and it is Asami who is allowed the last words, to Aoyama, continuing her personal love story: ‘You are the first one to support me. Warmly wrapping me. Trying to understand me. It’s hard to forget about.’ We may recall what Aoyama said to her earlier: ‘Some day you’ll feel that life is wonderful.’ The final shot shows her as a little girl, tying on her ballet shoes.

Acknowledgement: I feel I must acknowledge the influence on this article of Gustav Mahler – his seventh symphony and especially its central, terrifying ‘Schattenhaft’ Scherzo – though I can’t pin down the exact nature of its contribution. I have been listening to it somewhat obsessively (in recordings by the two greatest Mahler interpreters, Horenstein and Scherchen) throughout the week it has taken to write this, alternating with reviewings of the film, and the two have somehow merged into a single experience. Today the music seems almost like a premonition of what was to come in Germany during the succeeding four decades since the symphony’s premiere in 1908: I hear in that central movement the wails of agony, anguish and despair rising from the concentration camps, ghoulishly juxtaposed with a sort of off-kilter Viennese waltz. What courage it must take to compose such music.


Robin Wood was a groundbreaking critic and historian of cinema.

Robin Wood’s essays in Film International 2003-07:

1. Irreversible: Against and For’, 2003:5 (vol. 1, no. 5)

2. ‘Revenge is Sweet: The Bitterness of Audition, 2004:1 (vol. 2, no. 7)

3. ‘Claire Denis: Cinema of Transgression, Part 1′, 2004:3 (vol. 2, no. 9)

4. ‘Only (Dis)Connect and Never Relaxez-Vouz, Or I Can’t Sleep. Claire Denis: Cinema of Transgression, Part 2′, 2004:5 (vol. 2, no. 11)

5. ‘The Heroism of Disobediance and Deceit: Where is the Friend’s Home?, 2005:2 (vol. 3, no. 14)

6. Exodus Collides with the Kedma, 2005:6 (vol. 3, no. 18)

7. ‘The Skull Beneath the Skin: Patrice Chéreau and Son Frère‘, 2006:3 (vol. 4, no. 21)

8. ‘Wild Reeds: A Film of the Past for Our Future’, 2006:5 (vol. 4, no. 23)

9. ‘From Ruggles to Rally; or, America! America! The Strange Career of Leo McCarey’, 2007.3 (vol. 5, no. 27)

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3 Comments for “Revenge is Sweet: The Bitterness of Audition”

  1. One correction: the “slop” or “soup” is in fact vomit. You can hear Asami puking in in the kitchen before she come into full view with the dog food bowl.

  2. […] I personally believe the world would be a much healthier place if everyone were able to reveal their most hideous secrets sincerely through film and literature.  Even though Audition is a work of fiction, it hits home in a very true to life way. The viewer will be forced to make sense of it or they will discard it in disgust (which many do unfortunately). I’ve noticed that Audition’s fans are often very sensitive people which is contrary to what you might expect. My love for this film did not develop after I initially watched it. It built up over the years. There is no one movie like it. After watching Audition: Make absolutely certain you check out these really excellent reviewers of the film. There are spoilers. One’s a historical obsessive of Japan, the other a legendary writer. Constantine: http://constantineintokyo.com/2009/05/11/japanese-film-reviews-1-miike-takashis-audition/ Robin Wood: http://filmint.nu/?p=42 […]

  3. […] Controversy: Some have oddly deemed this as a feminist film. I’d say it’s just a movie that hates being categorized and that gender roles aren’t exclusive. Takashi Miike believes that this film is not a horror movie. There are no ghosts or supernatural occurrences. However, one man had been rushed from the theater to the hospital in the middle of watching it. Some audiences became outraged by it and shouted at the director to his face upon seeing him. Horror enthusiast Rob Zombie himself admitted that even he was sincerely freaked out by this film, and that never happens with him. This movie is unrated, and for 1999, it pushed the envelope much further than previous films. There have been grosser displays in cinema but never with this kind of real life feel. Targeted audience: It’s microscopically small. It’s for people who had once lived and breathed depression and aren’t hesitant to understand it no matter how disturbing. It’s for those who despise PG-13 romantic comedies. I don’t think horror fans who love blood and gore through any means are it’s real audience. It’s a deliberately slow paced film. You’ll unquestionably need a firm stomach. If you’re a person who wants to know the truth about the world no matter how unbearable, this may be for you. My fascination with this film: I first saw Sybil when I was about 14 years old. This film feels very similar to it and expresses itself much further. When a film exposes the truth about a particular person’s hellish upbringing, I don’t think you can question the need for such a task. With Audition, evil becomes harder to identify and so does insanity. It attempts to understand both. Yes, how people acquire mental illnesses can only be explained by a disconcerting background. I personally believe the world would be a much healthier place if everyone were able to reveal their most hideous secrets sincerely through film and literature.  Even though Audition is a work of fiction, it hits home in a very true to life way. The viewer will be forced to make sense of it or they will discard it in disgust (which many do unfortunately). I’ve noticed that Audition’s fans are often very sensitive people which is contrary to what you might expect. My love for this film did not develop after I initially watched it. It built up over the years. There is no one movie like it. After watching Audition: Make absolutely certain you check out these really excellent reviewers of the film. There are spoilers. One’s a historical obsessive of Japan, the other a legendary writer on film. Constantine: http://constantineintokyo.com/2009/05/11/japanese-film-reviews-1-miike-takashis-audition/ Robin Wood: http://filmint.nu/?p=42 […]

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