Audition Takashi Miike

Though he's earned himself the status of "legendary filmmaker" in a relatively short time, Takashi Miike deserves every word of acclaim that is heaped upon his films. Whether it's his surplus of new films each year or the fantastically violent examples he's given us with Dead or Alive and Ichi the Killer, Miike knows how to sugar-coat what we fear most with exact precision and a visceral touch that is enough to make even the most leathery skin crawl. Audition is arguably his finest, most psychologically damaging film, though it takes the last quarter of the movie to learn that. Seven years after his wife passes, widower and single father Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) decides to begin dating again. He recruits his film producer friend to stage a mock casting session where he can screen potential wives who fit the "beautiful, classy, obedient" bill. When he meets the young, mysterious Asami (Eihi Shiina), the pair begins a slow, intense courtship that feels awkward and almost too intimate to watch as it unravels before you. However, as innocent and coy as it sounds, this is not Miike's stab at breaking into the romance department, and in its last 30 minutes the film kills all hopes of making this your next dinner and a movie option. What transpires is a powerful revelation that will make most dinners come up, as Miike drops a catch 22 filled with unsettling flashbacks, torturous dismemberment and what will be the last time you'll want to hear the words "kitty, kitty, kitty" muttered. Even more damaging is the fact that this climax is left open-ended for you to excruciatingly determine what is real and what isn't. Brilliantly creepy and one of a kind, Audition will make you want to do a background check the next time you meet that special someone. Hell, even the damn menu will make you cringe. Plus: selected commentary, interview, scariest movie moments segment, more. (Maple)