Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Make Mine Miike

After catching up with The Happiness of the Katakuris I feel I have a good handle on Takashi Miike, and even if I suspect he's going to rarely make films I love, I've definitely come around from my position on him from, say, a year ago.

The way I see it, the horror of Audition is part and parcel with the glee of a film like Katakuris, in that Miike's cinema is essentially an affirmation of life: lived life, a sensuous process rather than a concept. And I think only someone intimately comfortable with depictions of death and abjection could pull off the affirmative ending of this genre-bender. I really need to revisit Audition now, but I wonder if a lot of its impact (and I don't deny it has a certain special impact, even if I didn't like the film when I saw it several years ago) has less to do with the avenues horror films usually take, and more with the sort of oblique Miikean closeness to the fragility and transience of happiness, to have one's "dream" attack one mercilessly. (To resurrect a line of thought from a little while back: in a way very different from Romero, Miike too seems to be a fine posthumanist, something echoed by the little girl's narration at the end of this film when she asserts without terror or grief that humans will sooner or later fall victim to natural selection.) In The Happiness of the Katakuris (as with Dead or Alive 2) the characters learn to live with their violent demons, both figurative and literal, and achieve a certain transcendence while negotiating their way through the imperfect, beautiful, demon-filled immanent world. The ambiguous appearances of heavenly existence (or non-existence?) in Katakuris and Dead or Alive 2 makes for an interesting path to go down, but I'm not well-versed enough in the spiritual philosophies that might influence and inspire Miike to comment much on this.

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