Right there. That is a link to the movie. If you have heard of the movie called Audition, but have not watched it for whatever reason, then it is up to you to decide if you want to watch it. If you have seen the movie, then read on if you wish. But if you haven’t watched it, there it is right there. Just watch it. Just click on the link, ignore all of images and whatever as fast as you can. Don’t read past the poster, just watch the movie and you can come back two hours later. No, don’t find out if you know someone who knows the movie, don’t try to find if someone has the DVD, and don’t search for it in your library. Unsure about the legitimacy of that Youtube video? Well, it is also available on Amazon and Vudu. But just watch it. DO IT!
Approximately 116 minutes.
Oh, did you read a little too far by accident? No, of course not; you didn’t even look at this to begin with. But I’ll pretend that you are reading anyways and try to stall this thing with a little tl:dr.
Well, what can I say about this movie that hasn’t been said before? Well, not much, really, aside from my personal experience watching it. So I will talk about that, then. This is the movie that got me into watching Asian movies in the first place. No, this is far from the first Asian film that I have seen, but it was the catalyst for me actively seeking them out. Before seeing this movie, I had casually watched a couple of movies from Asia, but my exposure to Asian movies had been primarily (though not exclusively) through my parents. PLEASE NOTE: I WAS A CHILD AT THE TIME! They would watch a bunch of slow realist dramas (often boring), old Kurosawa classics (Oh My God Boring), goofy comedies (sometimes funny, but sometimes way over my head), martial arts movies (fun, but forgettable), and a few of John Woo’s heroic bloodshed movies (fun, though very cheesy). I sometimes watched anime films that my younger brother enjoyed, but a lot of them simply confounded me. Decades have passed, and as I have gotten older, I have grown to appreciate some of those movies more upon watching them again on my own terms. But I probably would not have given them a second chance without this movie. I may have eventually gotten into Asian movies without seeing this movie when I did given my trajectory, but I think that this accelerated my drive.
This movie is one of those things that I cannot separate my opinions on from my initial experience and is effect on me. I know for a fact that I would feel differently about this movie had I not seen it when I did and I know that I would feel differently about other Asian movies that I would watch afterwards had I not seen this one first. I have no idea how would feel, I just know that I would feel significantly different. In fact, it might have all been different had I not completely misunderstood what this movie would be like going in. It was not that I went in there with a blank slate or was tricked; I was completely mistaken about what this movie would be like and remained mistaken for about the first third of the film.
It was…let’s say early Spring of 2002. I actually cannot remember quite when it happened, which kind of bothers me, but let’s not dwell on that here. So I was just a college kid who was becoming interested in various academic subjects regarding East Asia, but had not really thought much about pop culture. I also liked to frequent the university cinema, with its festival of films that I either missed in the theaters or would probably have never been able to see otherwise. Audition just happened to be one of those movies. It was on the schedule and its description kind of intrigued me.
The description of the movie probably told me more than I should have known going in, but it was misleading enough that I thought that it would be a gross-out comedy like There’s Something About Mary. Now, I absolutely loathed There’s Something About Mary, but there was something in the synopsis, about a man faking a movie audition to meet women, that interested me. In hindsight, that makes me sound like a bit of a creep, but…uh…anyways, I don’t exactly remember what the description said or why I decided to go see it; maybe I thought that it was going to be tits galore or something. Man, college me was terrible. Regardless, instead of going in with no expectations for the movie, I went in with completely misplaced expectations.
Those expectations did not give way when the person introducing the film told us that we had a chance to leave and get refunded before the movie started. In fact, the expectations did not change until I forgot about them about a third of the way into the movie. So…now I am pretty much done stalling. To the movie.
A ten-year-old boy is walking down a hospital hallway with an elaborate get-well present for his mother that he probably made himself. Less than a minute has passed in this movie and my immediate thought was that he was going to trip and fall face-first into his present. But, instead, it cuts to his mother’s hospital bed, where his father is clasping her hand and calling out her name as she dies. The doctor apologizes, states the time, and leaves as the father buries his head in the bed. He lifts his head to see his son in the doorway. The son says that he brought the present for his mother, but he knows that she is already dead. So far…this not the barrel of laughs that I was expecting, but it has been only three minutes.
Flashforward seven years, and we see father and son fishing. The father, Aoyama Shigeharu, wants to leave, because the water is too rough, even though the son, Aoyama Shigehiko, just caught a little fish. The elder Aoyama says that he wants to focus on the big fish. Shigehiko somehow mixes the fish metaphor with what they were probably actually talking about, implying that his father is a hopeless romantic who would let a whole lot of “fish” get away in hopes for something that is not actually real. Suddenly, Papa Aoyama’s line tightens. Is it a big fish? OOOOHH!!! Maybe he will get one that will drag him into the water…no…he catches the fish. And they eat it for dinner. It is during that dinner that Shigehiko rather abruptly suggests that his father remarry.
We cut to a scene of what looks to be Father Aoyama and a coworker looking at footage of a hardcore punk concert…well…that’s kind of funny…? Then we see him about to leave his office as his secretary follows him. She tells him that she is about to get married, even though it seems pretty obvious that she is harboring feelings towards him that he seems to not notice at all.
Aoyama is at some restaurant or bar with Yoshikawa, a friend in the film industry, and they talk about how the recession is hurting them. I did mention that this was 1999, right? Yes? Okay. Well, they get distracted by some young women at the other end of the room laughing loudly. Yoshikawa starts complaining about how young women these days are just awful and Japan has no future. Aoyama mentions that he plans to remarry, and so they discuss what kind of woman he wants: gorgeous, mature, a career woman with maybe some talent in the performing arts, confident, gorgeous, independent, gorgeous, pretty much similar to his late wife. And he wants to both see a lot of women in order to find one who is perfect AND be able to take the time to make sure. Like they are fish in the sea. Yoshikawa, amused at the ridiculousness of his friend’s notions, comes up with the only thing that he can think of to make them work: hold auditions for a fake movie where he can ask all sorts of questions about the actresses and get them to do anything. Then Aoyama can narrow down his prospects to whomever he has the best chemistry with, as long as she is too happy to have enough expressive talent to make it to the final round. What? How horribly perfect. How perfectly horrible. Aoyama is a bit wary of such fraud, but he eventually gives into his comedic sidekick. Well, let the zany 1980s-style raunchy antics begin…after we hear the ad for the audition while Aoyama is in his car…and see someone listening from her house.
Okay…zany 1980s-style antics…after he gets home and sees the housemaid out…and looks through files of actresses…or just glancing at their photographs…and…sheesh, how many applicants are there? Oh, he just turned away the photograph of his wife. Yoshikawa calls up and, after hearing Aoyama comparing this experience to getting his first car, tells him to pick thirty women for the auditions next week AND reminds him to actually read the essays. Okay, Shigehiko kind of barges in and…not really crazy antics, but Aoyama realizes that he left a coffee stain on one of the essays. He pulls it out AND THEY ALL COME FALLIN-nevermind. He looks at it and just gets engrossed in the story of Asami, a would-be ballet dancer who lives life with what sound like happy acceptance of her fate. Well, I guess that he has a favorite already.
OKAY! Auditions. Or two shots of an empty chair, that’s fine too. Aoyama is still uncomfortable about this arrangement, but he is here, so he is no less guilty than Yoshikawa in this scam. And we get some quirky pseudo bossa nova violins going, so this is going to be quirky. We see them going through applicant after applicant and Yoshikawa asks all sorts of questions, sometimes about acting or men or sex or drugs. Aoyama remains silent, noting that Asami is number 28 of 30. So, this part is kind of amusing. One of the applicants does some sort of cheerleader baton twirler routine. A few do some dance acts. One of them is basically wearing only a bikini. Oh, one of them is stripping down for some reason. Well, there are a couple of tits. One talks about her suicide attempts…uh…funny?
Oh, here comes Asami. Pretty. Poised. Polite. Modest. Soft-spoken. Perfect. Almost unreal. And Yoshikkawa asks her the standard questions about her acting experience, business connections, and current employment. Suddenly, Aoyama starts getting talkative, asking about her ballet, and making some slightly creepy comments about her essay. Yoshikawa is puzzled at Aoyama’s behavior and so am I. Dude, you just said a whole lot of something that was supposed to be a question, but was definitely not a question. Asami does not seem to mind, being proper and ladylike. Yoshikawa comments that Aoyama has already made up his mind and is acting strangely. He also has a bad feeling about her, but cannot articulate it to Aoyama.
Aoyama is not having any of it, even calling up Asami after dinner to meet the next day for lunch. Yoshikawa calls up to point out some flaws in the story that Asami told about her acting connections, but that does not stop the date from taking place, because that is what we see immediately afterwards. Aoyama asks her about her agent, some music director, and she immediately admits to never having met the man. She apologizes, but Aoyama does not care for whatever reason. After the…meeting…she asks if they could meet again, if only so that she has someone to talk to. Of course, he says yes and she is happy. He is happy. I am bored. Where is the goddamn madcap comedy I was promised??
The movie suddenly shifts to Aoyama and Yoshikawa in what looks like a batting cage on top of a building. Maybe one of them will get hit by a baseball? Aoyama says that he has his heart set on Asami and he cares not for the movie at all. So…are the auditions over? That was not even twenty minutes of the movie. What about the madcap hijinks? Yoshikawa is still suspicious of Asami, and thinks that Aoyama is moving much quicker than he said he would. Asami seems too good to be true and her background does not check out. Aoyama is not listening to him and is about to leave when Yoshikawa asks him only to refrain from calling her for a while. So, what does Aoyama do? He refrains from calling her. She is at home, just sitting on the floor a bit a few feet from the phone, but looking at it. Okay…
Aoyama sleeps and dreams of his wife. Aoyama stays home for the first time ever. Oh, wait, so he eventually goes to work, but doesn’t seem to be doing much. So he looks at the phone and…is she still in the same place? Yes she is, she just fell asleep while sitting on the floor. Aoyama gets up to leave the office, but goes back in to call her. Yeah, I am about to fall asleep too. This movie is lame. I wanted dumb antics, not romantics. The phone rings and rings. And rings. Asami is still sitting there with her head down, but she slowly starts to smile. She slowly lifts her head and I should take the time to note that her home from what we see is pretty empty. There is the phone and a nearby sack on some mat. There is a small set of drawers by the window with what looks to be a radio. There is a HOLY FUCK! THE SACK JUST ROLLED OVER AND GROWLED!!!
Well, I am awake again.
Uh…Asami picks up the…phone…and…uh…here we are on the second…meeting. Asami admits that she had been waiting for Aoyama to call, but thinking that she would never see him again. Asami tells him a bit about her family and her job at a bar and I should note right now that sometimes the camera cuts to the same shot to make it seem that there are bits of the story missing. Aoyama eventually says that the film is most likely to be postponed or even cancelled due to a backer backing out. Asami seems fine with that, accepting of everything and just happy to have met Aoya…wait, did we just suddenly cut to the third date at a different restaurant? Okay, so they are on their third date. Aoyama tells her that she will one day realize how wonderful life is and Asami is saying how Aoyama is different from all the other men that she has met. They leave in a taxi and Asami gets out near her home without him knowing quite where it is…or that there is a moving sack.
Aoyama decides to tell his son about Asami. Shigehiko has already guessed that his father has found a girlfriend and jokes that, at 24, she is only a few years older than he. Heh. Aoyama tells him that they are going away for the weekend, where he plans propose to her. Shigehiko is happy for him.
Oooo…this is a nice little hotel. And…Asami is looking at the beach and…nothing is happening. They are back in the room and Aoyama starts talking about the hotel cook and a gallery when Asami just looks at him, walks up to the room lamp, turns it off, takes off her clothes, and gets into bed. Okay. Aoyama seems a bit nervous, but walks over there when Asami asks. She tells him to look at her body as she slowly pulls the covers from her legs. Uh…are we going to see a penis? Er…no. Just some scars on her inner thigh. Apparently she had some accident as a child. Really? Scars? Well, that was not a big deal. Asami tells him to love her and only her. He promises to. She says that everyone says that, but that he is different. He starts to take off his clothes and kisses…wait, where did she go? Did we have another abrupt scene change? The phone rings and she is definitely not there. Aoyama is slow in answering the phone, but guy at reception tells him that Asami had left.
Aoyama meets with Yoshikawa and sheepishly tells him that she disappeared. Aoyama thinks that there was some misunderstanding and the he has to see her again. He asks whether Yoshikawa could track down her address, but Yoshikawa says that this is all probably for the best and that he should never see her again. Aoyama bristles at the suggestion that he is a silly old fool who fell for a young girl and decides to track her down himself. Okay, so no madcap zaniness; I guess that this will be a mystery movie, then. But, at least it is more interesting now.
Aoyama goes to the ballet school that Asami had mentioned in her essay. The place looks closed down and boarded up, but he hears someone playing the piano and makes his way in. This place is pretty empty too, just an old man in wheelchair playing the piano by a box of burning incense sticks. Aoyama asks about Asami and the guy starts laughing all creepily. Oh, he starts asking the creepy questions. We then see a flashback to Asami as a kid, and the old man crawls over to her and places two burning pokers on her thigh. So that is how she got those scars on her leg. The man tells Aoyama to leave and that is the end of that scene. Egads.
Aoyama goes to the bar that Asami had mentioned and…that looks closed down too. Some guy comes around and tells Aoyama that the place had closed over a year ago; the owner was murdered. Aoyama asks about Asami, but the man knows nothing about her. Aoyama asks about what happened to the owner, and the man says that she was going out with some music director. The man says that she was murdered in the bar and cut up into pieces, but the police somehow found three extra fingers, an ear, and a tongue.
Okay, the movie just cut to inside the bar where a cut-out tongue is wiggling about on the floor. And those other body parts, but that tongue was moving. And splashing in the blood.
So…we are…we are back at Aoyama’s house and the housemaid is leaving. And someone sneaks into the house and goes right to his favorite liquor bottle. That night, when Aoyama comes in, he hears Shigehiko’s message that he will be coming in late. He takes out his bottle and pours himself a drink. And almost immediately feels weird. He stands up and falls onto the oh, we are back at the restaurant from the second date.
What is going on?
This time, the camera cuts a lot less frequently as Asami talks about the divorce of her parents when she was young, her moving to her abusive uncle and aunt, her getting pushed down the stairs at 7, her going back to live with her mother, her hostile wheelchair-bound stepfather, her hiding in a dark room afterschool until her mother came home from work, her finding escape through ballet. We didn’t hear any of this the first time around. Oh….wait…is that Aoyama’s late wife at the other table, along with Shigehiko as a 7-year-old? Aoyama introduces her to Asami, but she warns him against her.
Oh, okay, now we are at Asami’s place and she rushes to Aoyama’s trousers to give him a blowjob…Well, all right then. That seems a bit out of character, though. Furthermore, if this is a dream sequence, how would Aoyama know what her place looks like?…well, no time to think about that because Asami just transformed into Aoyama’s secretary who recalls how the two of them had sex once and she thought that it would lead somewhere. Wait…what? They had…oh…now she is Shigehiko’s would-be girlfriend whom Aoyama saw a couple of times…that is creepy…if this is a dream sequence, then…
Aoyama tries to run away, but trips over…the sack. Oh, the sack. Why even dare to ask what is in the sack when we all already know? A guy in his underwear crawls out. He is missing three fingers, an ear, and a tongue. He is making vocal noises, but cannot speak. He is crawling because he is also missing his feet. In the background, Asami is vomiting into a dog dish. Well…at least the actual vomiting action is blocked from view, but we hear everything and see her bending over. She brings it to the guy, who laps it up. Wait, was that a tongue? Now Asami is a kid again, petting the guy on the head. Her kid self turns to a horrified Aoyama and says, in grownup voice, that he is to love her and no one else. Aoyama falls to the ground as Asami’s stepfather appears in the background, getting out of his chair and slowly walking towards Asami with those two burning sticks. We shift from Asami’s apartment and the ballet studio, where the grownup Asami is just standing there as he crawls to her, yelling at her to dance. She sits down and opens her legs for him to burn her. Now the stepfather is playing the piano again as Asami comes up from behind and slowly wraps some piano wire around his neck. He doesn’t seem to notice as she tightens and twists. He just keeps trying to play the piano. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. This is perhaps the longest decapitation on film that I have ever seen. And the scenes shift between fantasy sequences and mixed-up flashbacks as she pulls at the wire and her stepfather’s head falls off.
I think that I may have a headache.
And we are back to where Aoyama got poisoned and falls to the floor. Any creepy music or atmospheric noises cease and all we hear are Asami walking in from another part of the house and Aoyama trying desperately to move. Aoyama is pretty much paralyzed from the neck down, hardly able to talk and only able to shake the rest of his body. Asami says that he is actually more sensitive to pain as she injects something into his tongue. She rolls out some sort of functional rug and puts him on it. She cuts open his shirt as she accuses him of setting up fake auditions to trick girls into sex. Well, when you put it that way…She then takes out some acupuncture needles and places them in pressure points, making some cute little phrases as he struggles. Asami says that only pain is truthful. Oh, she just put on in his eye socket…and another…and a third one. And she taps them.
I will have to point out right now that, as quiet as the movie is during this sequence, the theater is extremely noisy. Practically everyone is groaning or screaming. A few are making that laughing/crying thing when one just cannot process how horrible things are. I…I don’t even remember what I was doing; I may have been in a daze at that point. This movie is…not a mystery…and certainly not a madcap zany gross-out comedy. Well, that scene at her apartment and the stuff with her stepfather was gross. And that shot of the tongue in the bar. This is sickening. I am getting sick.
Asami breaks out the piano wire and mentions Shigehiko, saying that Aoyama will understand much more clearly when she hurts his son. Aoyama manages to tell her to stay away from him, which an amused Asami interprets as a sign that he had lied to her about loving no one else but her. As she prepares Aoyama’s ankles for the wire, Asami says that she has no one else, and that she does not want to be just one of multiple people whom he loves. It is unfair that she gives him her entire self, but he does not reciprocate. She says that he is just like the others. And she puts the wire around his ankle. And pulls. Left hand. Right hand. Oh, she is smiling. She is grinning like a child with her favorite toy. And the foot comes off. She casually tosses it at the window and starts on the other foot.
Oh, Shigehiko is back earlier than expected. Asami gets something that looks like pepper spray and runs to hide. Shigehiko sees his father on the floor and Asami creeps up behind him to OH!!! Aoyama breaks out of his sleep.
WHAT?? Was this all a dream? He is back in the hotel and Asami is still there. The entire theater groans again, which gives in to nervous laughter. Aoyama laughs too, seeing his feet still intact. He washes up in the bathroom and tries to make sense of everything. Asami asks him if he is all right. They go back to bed. Asami says that she accepts his proposal. Wait…when did he propose? Asami says that she cannot believe that she is allowed to be so happy, to be the heroine in real life, not just in film. She falls asleep as he closes OH!
Asami comes up from behind Shigehiko with the pepper spray and runs after him. I am not sure what is in that spray, but I would think that stabbing him with one of those needles would have been more effective, as he is still able to run upstairs. She follows him, spraying all the way. He falls down at the top of the stairs and she just starts spraying him but Shigehiko kicks her and she falls all the way down to the bottom. And the bones in her neck realign with a crunch.
Shigehiko runs over to his father, who can barely tell him to call the police. As Shigehiko is talking with the dispatcher, Aoyama manages to turn to face Asami, who is looking back at him and seems to be talking despite the broken neck. She is repeating some of the things that she had said during their dates, about being alone and waiting for him, about being in love, about him being there for her when no one else was. We then hear Aoyama telling her again that she will one day realize how wonderful life is. The movie then ends with a scene of Asami as a little girl, in her room lacing up her ballet shoes, no longer afraid or unhappy. The end.
I am unwell.
So, there are…wait, hold on…
So, there have many interpretations and forms of analysis of this film, often focusing on gender roles in Japan, gender discrimination in general, the effects of abusive relationships, the complicity of good people, how power dynamics blind people to their own actions, the polite vs honest dichotomy in the way Japanese people interact, the impossible expectations of society, the issue of different levels of guilt and punishment, the contradictions of modernity, and the reason for the genre shift. Some have called this film misogynist, other have called it aggressively feminist. Others have called it simply another example of how Japan is fucked up. Yes, because David Lynch would totally not do something vaguely similar a year and a half later. Really, I could try to add my two cents to the massive amount of what is out there, but I would really have little to add to critical thought. Feel free to do so in the comment section if you wish, though. What I can do here is continue to talk about how the film affected me.
To be honest, my inability to remember the exact time is probably due to the fact that my sense of nostalgia for many pieces of entertainment is often more related to how they affected my feelings towards that medium of entertainment than my outside experiences. Of course, it could also be due to my memory already having been bad by the time I turned thirty.
My first time watching this was film was an experience unlike any that I had ever had before or have had since. I was lulled into a sense of serenity, picked up and thrown around, put down, and then thrown around a little more. I walked out of the theater in a daze. I told my friends, none of whom had attended the film with me, that I felt emotionally sick and a little physically sick because of the movie. Yet, I could not stop thinking about the movie. Or talking about it…well, not talking about the movie itself, but that I saw it. I saw it. This movie I saw. It was awful. Just an awful experience. I hated it. And I had to see it again.
I had seen a few movies before Audition that shifted genres (such as From Dusk Till Dawn), but never with such an extreme change in tone. And yet, it all fit. It all worked. It all came back around at the end. That is what made it so great. The second half did not simply shed itself of what happened in the first, but showed it in a new light. A horrifying new light. It broke it down and bled it out. This was more than a plot twist-type movie; I had seen plenty of those by this point. It was an entire movie twist. And it twisted me. I felt changed. Like there was a new avenue of possibility that movie entertainment could provide me. I wanted more. I did not care if it hurt again.
Going into this film, I had no idea about the hype. I had no idea about director Takashi Miike. I had no idea about the film festival controversies. I had no idea about his reputation or the movie’s reputation within the genre of horror. I definitely did not know going in that it was a horror movie. All I knew was how I experienced it: it started out painfully boring and ended up painfully awesome.
I can understand that people going in expecting a horror movie might get impatient and unsatisfied with the long wait to the good stuff when the movie is over, but that would probably be the wrong way to watch this movie. Personally, I feel that the best way to watch it would be how my father did.
It was not long before I managed to find the DVD in a store and I immediately bought it. Of course, the experience was different this time around, since I knew what to expect, but it was so satisfying watching it again, remembering what I had felt the first time around, and picking up little things that I had missed due to looking for something else, getting bored, or being unable to focus due to shock. The first half was certainly much less boring this time around and I do not simply skip it in order to get to the fireworks factory. Upon second watch, the first half is its own horror story in its own right. I was, however, a little disappointed to see that the DVD cover had descriptions of horror and showing Asami brandishing that syringe. Sure, it looks cool, as do the other variants of the DVD cover, but the element of surprise is gone, so I cannot say that I am fond of any of them. Why not make something similar to the one that I put together in an hour solely for this post? A little bit of professional touch-up and a misleading synopsis on the back cover and this would have been the best April Fools gift for my parents. To me, at least, they would have hated it. Anyways, one day I loaded the DVD into the player, had it all set to play, put the movie on pause, hid the DVD case, asked my father if he wanted to watch a movie, watched it with him, acted coy every time he said anything about it, and insisted that he stay once the grandfather showed up and again when the piano wire and needles came out. Needless to say, he was not all that happy with the movie, but I feel that he had the proper experience, at the very least.
Over the past fifteen years or so, I have managed to see around twenty-five of the ninety or so movies that Takashi Miike has made in his career as a director. A few of the movies I loved, several of the movies I enjoyed, some of which I downright hated, a few I thought were overhyped, and a bunch that I mix up with others. While a lot of his movies are unique, others are quite forgettable or interchangeable. It did not help that a few of these I watched in a type of marathon, and it is probably not a coincidence that the other movies of his that I plan on talking about for this site are movies that I tracked down long after that marathon and watched as individual movies. Of course none of the experiences could match up with seeing Audition, simply because I had the right expectation at this point.
It was not just Miike that this movie introduced me to. Nor was it extreme horror, which has never been a particular favorite genre of mine. No, it was the sense of making one’s own rules when it comes to storytelling. Though no other movie actually matched the sheer sense of glorious manipulation that the Audition experience gave me, I have managed to find a lot of Asian films that were able to shift between genres comfortably and naturally, as if it were no big deal. They can be subtle about it or abrupt with it, but rarely are they showy or smug with it. Life takes abrupt turns, so why not movies?
There was something else with my experience watching this movie. Maybe it was the subtle shake-up and shock of the last few scenes, but it may have actually been the beginning of a new experience watching Asian films. I may not have realized it at the time, but I may have subconsciously identified with the main character more than I have with other protagonists in movies. It was not due to who he was or what he did, because I could not identify with either of those things at all. It was the fact that he was a person who looked like what I theoretically could look like in the future is what got me. He was not my White friend. He was not my immigrant father. He was not some relic from an ancient time. And, at that point, he was not even someone from a far-off land and speaking another language. He was me. And me was getting needles stuck right in me’s eye sockets. I don’t think that I had ever felt such a powerful connection to a movie’s character before, even one as casually shady as Aoyama. Another Asian movie may have made me feel similarly, but not as strongly, not as forcefully, not at that point in my life.
This was the perfect movie for me at that time. And since then, I had bought two versions of the DVD and a blu-ray. To others, this may be a crazy foreign movie and an example of Asians being fucked up. To me, this was mine. This was me. After watching this movie, others may have decided that Japan is fucked up and sought other fucked up Japanese movies to reinforce their beliefs that Japan is fucked up. I watched this movie and sought out other Asian movies in an attempt to find pieces of what I could be and what could be me. This may not be my favorite movie, or even my favorite Japanese movie, but it needs no needle to continue to hold a certain place in my heart to this day. It may be a difficult watch, but at least it is not that My Chemical Romance video. Now THAT was torture.
WTF ASIA 8: To Live (China: 1994, approx. 132 minutes)
Free on Youtube.
WTF ASIA 9: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (India: 1998, approx. 185 minutes)
Available on Amazon Prime.