Audition
1999
Dir: Takashi Miike
Take three ingredients of Japanese popular culture:
1. Over-the-top manga cartoons.
2. Extreme violence
3. A penchant for the 'kinky'

Mix them up to make a film-making style, and you get Takashi Miike.

While Miike has made some great and famous films, what is perhaps most notable about him is actually how many films he makes. He is credited as director on over seventy productions, and at his peak around ten years ago, was shooting up to eight films a year.

Whilst he is known for his graphic and gory films, he has also made period films, kids' films and even a musical.

He has made films that appeal to the extreme horror fans, as well as films that have catered to a mass market audience.

This makes him a hard director for critics to deal with. Even the ardent horror fans are sometimes disappointed when they go to see a film expecting extreme violence and find that it is a superhero film.

And as you would expect from someone making a film every few months, a lot of his films are dreadful.

So, why does he make so many films?

He claims that he just loves the process of making films, and so likes to keep doing it.

He said once, "Now every time we're shooting when we're eating lunch I think if we can take 15 minutes off our lunch time we could probably make another movie while we're here as well."

But perhaps there's another more obvious reason. He makes so many films because he can. I suspect the reason that most directors make so few films is because even highly-reputed Hollywood film-makers still find the process of raising money for a film to be a long and arduous process. In Japan, a director with a solid reputation can raise money for his films much easier, provided the films cost less than about $500k, can be shot in a few weeks, and are within a profitable genre. The director will be given significant creative freedom.

Creative freedom is important to Miike, particularly when it allows him to explore the extreme ends of sadomasochism. His 2001 film 'Ichi the Killer' was banned in the U.K.

In 'Audition', the scenes of horror are actually brief and few. And the film relies more upon suspense and a foreboding sense of horror to come than actual explicit violence.

Yet it is disturbing.
When shown at the 2000 Rotterdam Film Festival, one angry lady viewer almost attacked Miike, screaming 'You're evil!'

Paul Spurrier