Men are stupid. We grab hold of a romantic notion and won't let go. We become instantly enraptured by someone's face, body, voice or written words and move forward in rabid pursuit, ignoring evidence that the other person is already involved in a relationship, wants nothing to do with us -- or is a total psycho. Audition helped make Takashi Miike known to a wider international audience in 2000, though he'd been making films for television and the direct to video market in Japan since 1991. His prolific output, and especially his sometimes sensationalist subject matter, influenced a raft of younger filmmakers, including Eli Roth, who gave him a cameo in Hostel. But don't blame torture porn on Miike.
Though I missed Audition when it played in theaters, I picked up the unrated director's cut as soon it became available on DVD. A recent viewing reaffirmed its capacity to shock. Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) sits in a hospital room and helplessly watches his beloved wife die. Seven years pass and he is nothing but a hollow shell of a middle-aged man, lonely to his core, rotely performing his duties at a video production company. Even his teenage son Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki) can see that he "looks old" and encourages him to remarry. While having drinks with his producer friend Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), he listens to Yoshikawa bemoan the sad state of the film industry and expresses his own desire to find a nice girl to marry. With the mind of a producer, always seeking to solve problems, Yoshikawa quickly decides that they should hold an audition.