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Takashi Miike, 1999
Japan | Japanese | 115 minutes
Due to the catastrophic events in Japan, Takashi Miike is no longer able to attend the upcoming series. He sends his sincere regrets.
This shellshock of a film, featuring a now-legendary reversal of audience expectations, made Miike’s name overseas as the leader of the short-lived “Asia Extreme” subgenre, yet remains curiously unpopular in Japan. And though voted #15 among “Bravo’s Scariest Movies of All Time,” the director doesn’t consider it to be a horror film! Adapted from Ryu Murakami’s short novel by Daisuke Tengan (son of Shohei Imamura and writer of 13 Assassins and Miike’s “Masters of Horror” TV series entry Imprint), Audition follows good-looking, nice guy TV producer and widower Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi, The Grudge) as he begins to search for a new wife. When another producer friend suggests holding a casting call for a non-existent movie project, Aoyama is able to interview a wide variety of young women about their prospects for marriage, without them knowing his intentions. Unfortunately for him, Aoyama chooses icily beautiful, failed ballet dancer Asami (Eihi Shiina, in an iconic performance), a mysterious woman with a violent past marked by abuse and…something else? The ultimate refutation of Japanese female submissiveness, and a grand statement on the way violence begets violence, Audition’s now-infamous climax had American audiences literally running from cinemas during its theatrical run in 2001. If you’ve only seen it on home video, you haven’t experienced the full power of this movie to turn a normal audience into a cowering cluster of jangling nerves!