Capsule Reviews: Japanese Style

image, takashi miike audition odishon Audition (Japanese Odishon) This is some freaky shit right here. Almost unbearably disturbing, Takashi Miike’s Audition is a unique, well wrought film that should be seen- by the select few that have the stomach for it. It is, in a lot of ways, a fascinating film. One of the reasons it is so interesting is the structure. It’s set up like a long drive on the highway that suddenly runs into a 25 car, CHIPS style pileup. It’s almost like two films. For 4/5ths of it’s running time, Audition is an interesting, somewhat creepy, drama about a guy looking to find himself a new wife. His friend hatches a scheme whereby the would be suitor can audition thirty women in order to choose the perfect mate. He latches on to one mysterious candidate who appears to be everything he could hope for (at least to him- everyone else has their own unidentified misgivings about her.) Then like a switch being flipped, the last fifth is a vile, relentless, gruesome assault on the senses. It’s like someone took a perfectly normal film and mixed in a reel from The Untold Story accidentally. I’ve seen a lot of nasty shit in my time and the last 20 minutes of Audition is right there with anything you could dig up. It is, in fact, so unpleasant, I can only recommend the film with a big fat disclaimer attached. If you can stomach 20 minutes of brutal torture and depravity, then there is probably something here for you. If not, then stay far, far away (or maybe find the R rated version that apparently exists.)

The Ring (Japanese: Ringu.)This is one of those movies that lingers. In that way it reminds me of The Vanishing/ Spoorloos (the Dutch original/ not the Keifer Sutherland remake.) That aside, comparing anything to The Ring is a slippery slope. The level of psychological intensity in The Ring is FREAKY. Practically every frame made me nervous. And then there’s the "money shot…" Exempting certain scenes that win out due to their extreme violence or grotesqueness (several from The Untold Story come to mind,) I have never seen a more disturbing couple of minutes ever when watching a movie. It’s been a month or two since I saw this film and I’m still freaked out by it… Super-duper-highly recommended. I waited four years to see it and even with that much anticipation it was totally worth it.

Metropolis (Japanese:Metoroporisu) Not sure about this one. For starters my TV isn’t big enough. Seriously detailed animation (both human and computer generated) is the real draw to this movie and even though I don’t have a super small TV it felt like trying to watch it from five miles away through a pair or Cracker Jack binoculars. As for the rest, I’m thinking I should reserve judgment until I can see it under better circumstances.

Battle Royale (Japan) Even I, a grizzled veteran of the most bizarre shit that world cinema has to offer, thought this was a pretty fucked up movie. It’s great. Unquestionably so, in fact. It’s just the story, situations and the treatment thereof is so fucking insane, I still shake my head and laugh nervously when I think about it. This is some shit that has to be seen to be believed. Here’s a sentence that will give some perspective:Even for a movie that features "Beat" Takeshi in it this is pretty nuts. That’s saying something, I think.

These capsule reviews originally appeared on in January 2003.