Monday, October 15, 2018

AUDITION (1999, JAPAN)


"Cute meet" about to go wrong
in Audition

If I had gone into seeing Audition without knowing the film was labeled under the horror genre, I can only imagine what my reaction to it would have been like.

The film starts out with a man named Aoyama whose wife dies in the first scene, leaving him alone to raise a young son. Cut to several years later when the now teen-aged son encourages his father to get out and meet someone new. Before you can say The Courtship of Eddie's Father, the dad is convinced by a television producer friend to hold a mock audition for a show that is in reality a search for a suitable wife for Aoyama. The film shows several of the beautiful women being interviewed and the comedy here is pretty good. 

I'm guessing this is going to be a cute meet chick flick, right?...Well, let's not call Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant for the remake quite yet.

Aoyama chooses a girl named Asami, who has a very blank past and gives everyone else but Aoyama really bad vibes. As the movie progresses, we get parts of Asami's past that are pretty awful and one thinks this is closer to a female revenge movie. It is to a degree, but the extent to which Yasuhisa conducts her business at the end of the movie was very repellent and hard to sit through. I say that, yet I do admit I had trouble closing my eyes during the finale. This is definitely a film that will stick with you and one I never plan to watch again.

Asami (Eihi Shiina) at the end of her Audition

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

THE WICKER MAN (1973, GREAT BRITAIN)

Behold! The Wicker Man!
Christopher Lee sets the tone
in The Wicker Man
I first saw The Wicker Man on the USA network during the 80's and thought it was a creepy, but effective movie about a policeman that goes to investigate the disappearance of a girl on a island of pagans and is met with resistance or indifference at every turn.

Watching it again, I do realize I missed Britt Eckland's nude ritual dance during my initial viewing (I would have remembered seeing that) and a few of the outdoor pagan rituals that involved nudity as well. I also didn't remember the policeman character (Edward Woodward) as being such a devout Christian. It's an important part of the plot and adds greatly to his confrontation with the Pagans.

The fact that this film doesn't devolve into camp is a credit to the filmmakers and the performers. To see how easily that could happen, one has to only look at The Wicker Man remake with Nicholas Cage (Not the Bees!)

Britt Ekland performing her exotic dance number
in The Wicker Man

Friday, October 5, 2018

TETSUO: THE IRON MAN (1989)


The salary man being taken over in
 Tetsuo: The Iron Man

Tetsuo: The Iron Man has been described as sort of a Japanese version of Eraserhead, but more cyberpunk. I think that's as accurate as anything I could think of. The plot involves a metal fetishist and a "salary man"who...I changed my mind-I'm actually not going to recount the plot.  Let's just say I see the whole thing as a metaphor for how technology is taking us over where it not only becomes one with us but ultimately takes charge. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I may have liked this more If I had seen it on Night Flight on the USA network the year it first came out, but sometimes you see a movie when you see it.

The metal fetishist asserts his authority in
Tetsuo: The Iron Man

Monday, October 1, 2018

WAKE IN FRIGHT (1971, AUSTRALIA)

 Gary Bond and Donald Pleasence prepare to dine
on Kangaroo in Wake in Fright

I admit that the only thing I knew about Wake in Fright going in was that it was Australian. I was trying to do some horror movies this month and I thought a film called Wake in Fright might work for that...but after watching this for a bit I realized  that this one doesn't  fit into that category the way I thought it would. Not that there isn't a great deal of horrifying images in it (Can you say Kangaroo hunt?). The film is kind of like Deliverance meets Walkabout meets Crocodile Dundee meets Heart of Darkness with maybe a touch of Groundhog Day (In that the protagonist can't escape his situation.)

John Grant (Gary Bond) is a discontented teacher, who while traveling on his way to Sydney for a holiday, makes a pit stop in a small town where he gets involved with some of the locals in most unusual ways. He gets in some back room gambling in which after an initial winning streak, ends up losing all of his money and finds himself now stranded in the town (known as The Yabba).

The films unfolds very slowly and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I found myself often questioning what it was all about early on, but I kept on plugging, though the movie doesn't play its hand in any obvious way.

During the second part of the film, John gets involved with a group of swaggering hunters. These sporty fellows mostly like to drink, fight, debauch and go out on Kangaroo hunts. He also gets involved with a local woman...or should I say doesn't really get involved as this movie never seems to go in the direction you think it might. John also meets a  sort of doctor (Donald Pleasence) who might be the oddest of all the odd characters he runs into.

Most of the film is about how John changes throughout. His contempt for his surroundings dissipates as the contempt for himself seems to increase. It doesn't look like going down this rabbit hole is going to end well.

It's an odd film and one that does take a little patience. Enter The Yabba at your own risk. G'day.

Male bonding before the hunt in Wake in Fright