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Audition
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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2002
I had heard of "Audition" for months before actually getting my hands on a copy of the DVD. I basiscally knew what to expect -- slow first hour, horrific final half hour, leaving you guessing at the nature of what really happens. However, because I'd read so much about the film, I think I really cheated myself out of a truly visceral horror experience.
First, a short plot synopsis: Main charcter's wife dies. Seven years later, he's lonely and decides he wants to re-marry. To meet women, he holds an audition, casting for a fake movie, in order to easily meet young women. One particular young lady captures his fancy. But she is definitely more than she seems.
ATTENTION: This is NOT a Hollywood horror film. Don't expect the fake-scare red herrings, or the busty brainless chicks creeping into the attic to find out what that growling noise is. In fact, Audition contains few, if any, "shock" moments. Instead, the movie is a slow boil of disturbing creepiness that crescendoes into a brutal third act. This is not to say that there are not horrific moments, certainly this movie is rife with terrible images. But the film plays so differently from the tripe we see in American horror genres. It's slow, it's measured and it's effective.
I might be in the minority here, but I enjoyed the first hour of this film immensely. I liked the main character as a person, even felt a little sorry for him during his quest to find a mate, which made his fate (which I knew because of my research into the film) all the more dreadful.
I suppose because the second half of the film is so brutal, viewers might feel cheated out of what could have been a nice love story. However, I think this is what makes the film so quintessentially Japanese in its horror. "Audition" is the fright of every day relationships, taken to extremes beyond extreme. This is the darkest journey into ideas of loneliness, friendship and the fact that noone really knows anyone in this world. It is an examination of psychological fears made flesh.
My advice: See this movie, but do not ruin it for yourself by reading much about it before experiencing it. "Kidee, kidee, kidee, kidee."
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210 of 241 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon January 5, 2004
In the battle between men and women, who will triumph? Who knows, but Japanese director Takashi Miike's film "Audition" shines a particularly brutal light on this eternal conflict. Set in Japan, the film takes on additional significance considering what we know about the role of women in that society. I am far not expert on Japanese social roles or mores, but I imagine the stereotypical picture of a Japanese woman as a subservient figure to men is more or less an accurate one. Certainly, gender roles have changed somewhat over the last fifty plus years as Japan rapidly industrialized and assumed a western style political system. One hopes that some progress in this area has taken place there, but I am not so sure after watching this film. Apparently, the idea of a docile, ever ready to serve her partner woman still exerts a strong influence in that country. Otherwise, "Audition" would make little sense to its target audience. Completely independent of its effect on Japanese audiences, the movie will send shivers down the spine of every American male.
"Audition" starts like a Japanese adaptation of some saccharine American family television program. Aoyama, a man whose wife died some years before, desperately seeks female companionship. He works as a television producer, has done an excellent job raising his son, and enjoys bonding with this son on fishing trips. Aoyama, in other words, is a really nice guy. It's just that he is so lonely nowadays since his son is quickly growing up and has less and less time to spend with his father. Aoyama therefore soon faces the prospect of almost total solitude. Our hero opens his heart to his business partner one evening at the local bar, lamenting the changing face of Japanese society that has led to a decline of traditional women--meaning ladies who will stay home and serve their husbands--and a rise in the numbers of modern, cynical women. After commiserating with his buddy, the two come up with an excellent idea. Recognizing that they work in the film business, why not put out an ad for a female part in a new television program while secretly using the audition process as a means of securing the perfect mate for Aoyama? What a brilliant idea! A quick perusal of the resumes beforehand will help narrow down the final choices.
The plan goes off without a hitch, and Aoyama does indeed discover a young woman who he thinks will be his ideal match. Blessed with an ethereal visage and the pretty name of Asami, this young woman seems like a magnificent catch. Aoyama likes the fact that the young woman has undergone a few personal tragedies in her life but emerged stronger because of them. He even seems to like her perpetual shyness, perhaps because it indicates Asami is a traditional woman who will know her place in Aoyama's household. Even after deciding on Asami, our hero hesitates to pursue the relationship. Should he be so forward? Wouldn't it seem indecorous to make such blatant overtures? As Aoyama debates what action he should take a few problems emerge that cast a pall over his choice. His partner encourages him to choose someone else, saying that her "chemistry" isn't right and that he has a bad feeling about this young girl. Another possible problem emerges when Aoyama discovers that Asami has no permanent address. Only a phone number links the two potential lovers, but the lonely Aoyama throws all caution to the wind and calls anyway. On the other end of the line sits Asami, who spends a lot of time sitting around a bare room waiting by the telephone. When the phone finally rings, a smile full of sinister implications stretches itself across Asami's mug. She obviously knows her charms worked on the older Aoyama and now she plans on running a show full of painful activities.
No guy wants to think the sort of things that happen to Aoyama could really occur, but it can happen when you start treating people like objects instead of living, breathing beings. And Asami has been treated like an object by every male figure in her life. When it comes time to lash out at her oppressors, Aoyama is there to take the fall. The film becomes problematic when we learn that the main character is actually a nice guy. He loves his son, certainly wouldn't treat a woman badly, and is so lonely that it is tough to not empathize with the desperate measures he takes to find a woman. Miike lessens the likeability of Aoyama during the second half of the film, when we see he has some decidedly unsavory desires of his own, but I still couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy.
Whether the extreme torture session between Aoyama and Asami actually takes place or is a dream really isn't all that crucial to the story line although it certainly achieves a fingernails on the blackboard effect for any male watching it. I think "Audition" is a film about how men and women constantly and consistently fail to connect on a personal level. When Aoyama authorizes the audition and reads through the resumes looking for the perfect woman, he assigns a host of assumptions to Asami based on what HE wants in a woman. Whether she will fulfill these expectations in person is secondary to what the man wants. Watch the movie, not just for the gore scenes, but also to view a social critique about gender roles and miscommunication.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2002
AUDITION - directed by Takashi Miike (2001)
DVD/VHS
10/10
Japanese with English Subtitles
This film is un-rated and contains graphic violence.
Takashi Miike has accomplished drawing the audience in slowly with subtle and well-made storytelling that turns into a roller coaster ride of white-knuckle extreme terror. At first it seems as though Miike is presenting at straightforward family drama. Husband/father Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) widowed seven years prior decides under the gentle and humorous direction of his son (Tetsu Sawaki) it is time to remarry. Simple? Well, no. Aoyama's drinking buddy Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura) decides to hold a fake audition for a film in search of the perfect woman. The editing during this sequence has a natural rhythm and humor that highlights the whole facade as the numbers of unusual women are asked a series of questions. Enter Asami (Eihi Shiina), a former ballet dancer, who seems to have suffered in her past. Aoyama falls in love quickly, and against the warnings of Yoshikawa moves forward in quest for the perfect mate," a compliant woman is best." Takashi quickly cuts to a still shot of Asami, sitting on the floor her head bent down, her hair falling over her head so we can't see her face, a telephone in the foreground, and a very large canvas bag. Throughout soundtrack is very well done and there are very different types of music to fit each scene. At this point, however, there is total silence. Long enough to create tremendous tension. Miike takes the audience with Aoyama as hints Asami's of psychotic disintegration almost subliminally sneak into the narrative. At the midway point we become just as disoriented as Aoyama. Is love blind and deaf? In a series of well-edited montage scenes we are shown previous shots of conversations with different dialog, or simply, more direct. Asami seems to be disclosing all of her painful and tragic past. Or is she? Do we really listen when we are in love, or do we simply hear what we want to hear? Asami's lifelong forced submission and compliance have been driven so deep they boomerang ..standing these traits on their heads. I enjoyed Takashi's sense of direction. The film flows, picking up pace towards the final scenes effectively employing the lost art of giving the audience the maximum amount of tension and fear while revealing little. By then it is too late. Throw in a couple of misplaced acupuncture needles, dismembered limbs, three fingers and a tongue. Well, you can imagine the scenarios. Or can you? This is a slow burn, with a great pace and it really pays off. Not for the squeamish, faint of heart or anyone who is afraid of needles. Deeper, deeper..deeper.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2002
Takashi Miike's AUDITION (Odishon) is not your ordinary horror story. Rather, it's a complex look at human frailty, fear and the desire to be loved.
I just saw it at a midnight screening, and the anticipation I and my friends felt was very high. Even the theatre management offered us their high praise of what they said is a very intense and unforgettable film.
Unforgettable and intense would be just two words I would use to describe AUDITION. The words suspenseful, horrific, sad, creepy, and graphic also come to mind. This is not a film for younger viewers (those under 17) or those who are squeamish at all.
The story revolves around a man, Aoyama(Ryo Ishibashi) who some years earlier lost his wife to illness, and had to raise their young son on his own. In the present day, his son is about 22 years old, and Aoyama is feeling old and very lonely. His business partner and he hatch a plan to find him a bride. They use the guise of casting for a film. They hold a casting call from the hundreds of interested young girls who respond to their solicitation. Ayoama, who desperately wants to find a wife, has already set his sights on one girl, Asami (Eihi Shiina) whose very touching letter he read from her resume.
Asami enters the interview room dressed in virginal/angelic white, acting very humble and deferential like a traditional Japanese woman would act toward a man. She is literally a vision of beauty and peace, while there is much more to her emotionally and psychologically. The business partner tells the man there is something he feels is amiss with Asami, and recommends against choosing her. However, Aoyama is irresistibly attracted to her, and can think of nothing but phoning her to say she has the "part" for their fake movie.
What transpires for the first half of the film is an unfolding of a potential relationship, wherein Aoyama and Asami spend hours in cafes revealing the most intimate emotions and details of their painful lives. Aoyama truly believes he is falling in love, and all will be well. He does come to tell Asami that he isn't really casting for a film, but really looking for a wife and lifelong companion. Asami then suggests they go away for a weekend away, and the downward spiral begins...
What follows for the next 45 minutes or so is a collage of dream-like flashbacks (a la David Lynch), extreme violence, and a lot of "heartbreak." I'm not going to detail the events of the last 20 minutes as this is the point where you DEFINITELY don't want to get up and walk away from the screen. Too much happens here and if you blink, you will miss something.
If you look past the graphic depiction of torture/revenge visited upon the men in this film, you will see that AUDITION is in many ways a social commentary on the modern-day perils, both real and imagined, that all people potentially encounter when they are paralyzed by their fears of loneliness, rejection and sadness.
The film's key strength is its use of genuine suspense and the deliberate unfolding of one horrific image followed by something more innocent. It is this juxtaposition of horror and innocence, love and hate, revenge and desire, that draws the viewer further into the darkness that is the soul of the abused and the unloved.
Recommended with a caution that is very graphic and disturbing. Nonetheless, you won't likely soon forget it!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 25, 2003
Disturbing is too kind of a word for this film, yet in its way Audition works as a shock-thriller meant to sear itself into your brain.
Suppose your wife dies, and you're getting old and lonely. Do you hit the bar scene to find an annoying, giggly, snobby girlfriend (watch the film...)? No! You get your movie producer friend to set up a fake movie so you can screen the young women auditioning for the lead role as prospective wives. Perhaps what later ensues is simply turnabout for fair play...
Everyone has a "bad feeling" about Aoyama's choice, and for good reason. Demure little Asami spends her free time at home, sitting hunched-over and drooling while waiting for the phone to ring... with a large, bulging sack in the background.
The film does explore very well the fears of men in Japan today while at the same time looking hard at and twisting the role of the "obedient" and proper traditional Japanese woman that Aoyama so desired. Looked at from a cross-cultural perspective, the film makes much more sense--which only heightens the horror and disturbing nature of its message.
I would wonder (or perhaps worry) about those who claim to truly love this film, but at the same time those who enjoy psycho thrillers or like to be disturbed will find this movie worth a watch. It's not what I'd call true horror, but you will definitely be horrified!
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2002
AUDITION - directed by Takashi Miike (2001)
DVD/VHS
10/10
Japanese with English Subtitles
This film is un-rated and contains graphic violence.
I can't decide which director would enjoy watching this film best: Clive Barker, Dario Argento, or Alfred Hitchcock. All these directors I appreciate for their talents in darkness whether it is extreme or subtle. Takashi Miike has accomplished drawing the audience in slowly with subtle and well-made storytelling that turns into a roller coaster ride of white-knuckle extreme terror. At first it seems as though Miike is presenting at straightforward family drama. Husband/father Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) widowed seven years prior decides under the gentle and humorous direction of his son (Tetsu Sawaki) it is time to remarry. Simple? Well, no. Aoyama's drinking buddy Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura) decides to hold a fake audition for a film in search of the perfect woman. The editing during this sequence has a natural rhythm and humor that highlights the whole facade as the numbers of unusual women are asked a series of questions. Enter Asami (Eihi Shiina), a former ballet dancer, who seems to have suffered in her past. Aoyama falls in love quickly, and against the warnings of Yoshikawa moves forward in quest for the perfect mate," a compliant woman is best." Takashi quickly cuts to a still shot of Asami, sitting on the floor her head bent down, her hair falling over her head so we can't see her face, a telephone in the foreground, and a very large canvas bag. Throughout soundtrack is very well done and there are very different types of music to fit each scene. At this point, however, there is total silence. Long enough to create tremendous tension. Miike takes the audience with Aoyama as hints Asami's of psychotic disintegration almost subliminally sneak into the narrative. At the midway point we become just as disoriented as Aoyama. Is love blind and deaf? In a series of well-edited montage scenes we are shown previous shots of conversations with different dialog, or simply, more direct. Asami seems to be disclosing all of her painful and tragic past. Or is she? Do we really listen when we are in love, or do we simply hear what we want to hear? Asami's lifelong forced submission and compliance have been driven so deep they boomerang ..standing these traits on their heads. I enjoyed Takashi's sense of direction. The film flows, picking up pace towards the final scenes effectively employing the lost art of giving the audience the maximum amount of tension and fear while revealing little. By then it is too late. Throw in a couple of misplaced acupuncture needles, dismembered limbs, three fingers and a tongue. Well, you can imagine the scenarios. Or can you? This is a slow burn, with a great pace and it really pays off. Not for the squeamish, faint of heart or anyone who is afraid of needles. Deeper, deeper..deeper.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2004
Miike's usual over the top direction takes a back seat to subtle drama and thrills in this horrific Asian Thriller.
The main character is facing loneliness after his wife's death and decides to hold a fake movie audition to screen potential female companionship. The one he falls in love with becomes the source of major terror for him and his family.

Sounds simple right? Well combined with Asian stereotypical attitudes towards male and female sexual roles, and Asian movie makers fixation with tortue, this movie becomes far from simple. Like I said before Miike takes us on a slow but effective ride for the first 1-1/2 of the movie, Basically showing the coy and romantic side of courtship between the main character and his new companion. But through out this dilberate pace, subtle hints of horror is shown as well as one of the scariest scene of the whole movie, in my opinion. Then at about 30 minutes before the end, Mikke decides to shake things up by displaying absolutely horrific events through "out of sequence" scenes that are debatabally realistic or a part of a dream. If you've seen Lynch's Mullholland Drive, then you know exactly what to expect since this movie does the same thing.

To some,The last thirty minutes ruins the movie. But to me it adds a needed intensity that was missing in most of the movie. Instead of the director pacing out his intensity through-out the film he purposefully decides to slow it down only to throw the viewer into a hyperspeed experience of horror. To me this was an excellent technique. On a side note, if you are not use to disturbing scenes of tortue and horror or not used to Asian horror films, then I would pass this up.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2006
This movie seems to be Japanese "Noire" at its best.

There are many reviews you can read about the content, but one of the striking feature of this production is the "crescendo" of intensity and horror.

You could watch the first 3/4 of the movie on the Disney Channel, really, while the last quarter could not be broadcasted on American television.

And this is one of its most powerful strengths: you are watching an every-day, bland, realistic portrait of a Japanese man's life, which keeps "real" until madnes rips it all apart.

The "deeper...deeper" torture scene is an all-time classic of the genre, in my opinion.

Good photography, camera usage, scenography. Acting is convincing and genuine. The only little disappointment: there is no sex what so ever in the whole movie, although there are some sexual episodes. This is ok if you think this is more of a psycological horror movie, but considering the origin of the female protagonist madness, sex might have improved the averall "color" of the movie.

Nevertheless, very good averall, not slow, well written and executed.

Enjoy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2006
I procrastinated. For one reason or another I kept putting off buying this DVD. But that only fed my expectations. I shouldn't have allowed them to get too high but, lucky for me, I was not diappointed.

Although I understand the complaints in some reviews about the slow pacing of the movie, I disagree that it was boring. The subtle camera angling, amber lighting, conservative use of a score, long moments of silence punctuated by sudden bursts of action, the occasional intercutting of disturbing flashbacks. All these devices riding the surface of a very sympathetic storyline made me uneasy, and my uneasiness just kept intensifying as the movie moved closer and closer to the full revealing of the girl's sociopathic state.

By the final fifteen minutes, my sense of dread had piqued.

This movie should be shown and discussed in all film classes. The topic: "How to Construct an Effective Horror Film."
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2005
A truly terrifying movie that happens to be a well made film. Audition scares and shocks for sure, but you might be surprised that underneath all is a deep, well constructed plot full of subtlety you'd never expect from a "cult horror" movie. This disturbing film brought international acclaim to director Takashi Miike, one of the most original, innovative, and skillful directors to appear in the last 20 years.

This movie has little in common with Ringu and the other Japanese horror fare currently being cannibalized by Hollywood. In many ways this is less a horror film than a drama. There are few of the horror genre's traditional "scare moments." The film has it's over the top aspects, but overall, this film feels realistic to a degree which the average horror film never approaches.

This is not a film for everyone, certainly. Many are bored by the film, which is understandable due to the deliberate slow pacing throughout the first 2/3 of the film. Others are letdown in general as compared to the reputation the movie has. I can also see this, as the film's seems to have gain an almost mythical status among some fans; it's shock aspect is often built to a level which nothing but a snuff film could reach, and it's usually represented as something it's not (i.e. an edge of your seat thriller). This attracts people seeking only moments such as those found in the movie's final scenes find they are out of luck; this is not just an exploitation splatter flick. The psychological elements far outstrip the gore, and they contain the real terror this film stands on. The amount of violence and the general explicitness is above what many people (perhaps most people) consider tasteful.

Also, some of said "don't believe the hype," but I say "don't listen to the hype." What I mean is, the less detail you know about this film and its plot, the better. The film is a truly great when you don't yet know what to expect.

Technically, this DVD edition is good (and badly needed, as the film has been out of print for a while). Calling this the "Uncut Special Edition" implies that this is a new cut, but this is NOT the case. This is the uncut edition, as was the previous DVD release, along with new special features. Director Miike provides an intro to the DVD, commentary, and an interview. Also includes is the BRAVO segment on the film and an interview with Ryo Ishibashi. My only complaint: there are a few spelling errors in the subtitles, which bothers me as I cannot believe that so much work was put into a new edition and no one thought to double check.
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