I’m of two minds on the film. In private communication, I described it as “one of those great movies you never want to see again.”
Something important to consider when looking at Miike’s movies is that he makes between five and ten of them a year. How he manages to do this, I don’t know, but his output is prodigious. Seems to me there’s a subtle but significant difference between somebody like, say, Kubrick, who carefully planned his projects over a number of years and then spent many months shooting and editing them, and Miike, who may spend as little as two or three months on a single project before rushing on to the next one.
So when considering his work, I give a lot of intellectual room to the intuitive-and-unconscious school of interpretation; I just don’t think there’s enough time for him to carefully consider every aspect of what he does. I think he’s a frighteningly gifted film artist who feels as much as knows what makes a powerful story, and what gets under the audience’s skin, and that he proceeds by instinct much of the time.
Obviously, in film criticism, there’s a distinction to be made between “what the artist intends” and “how the audience responds apart from or in addition to what the artist intends,” but the point is, when it comes to Miike, the balance between them is somewhat atypical.
The bottom line: Audition bowled me over, and whether Miike knew exactly what he was doing thematically, or was just fucking with the audience for the sake of fucking with them, or was channeling some subconscious muse he doesn’t analyze too closely, I don’t know. I’m curious to see how the thread develops.