My son, aged 28, is a cinema buff. His knowledge of Asian cinema far surpasses mine.
There is a very famous and highly regarded Japanese filmmaker, his name is Takashi Miike. He makes very graphic, very violent, outrageous films. He takes the rules of cinema and throws them out the window. Scholars have done PhDs on his body of work.
One of his famous, or infamous, movies is called Ichi the Killer. My son wanted me to watch it with him today. I’d seen some of the movie before, but hadn’t seen it all the way through. My son wanted me to see the film in its entirety. It’s one of his favourites.
Right at the start there’s a very graphic rape scene. And then later the same woman is raped and bashed again. I found it very disturbing. And partway through the film, I asked my son to turn it off. I told him I couldn’t watch it anymore.
He was disappointed, and reminded me that last time I’d watched it, I’d regarded the scenes of violence as an important part of the narrative, and I’d admired the over-blown outrageous nature of it all.
This time I couldn’t stand it. I simply couldn’t watch it, no matter how virtuoso the cinematic artistry was.
As my son was packing away the DVD, he asked me why I was so reactive this time. Last time I’d seen the film, I’d enjoyed it.
I told him: Now I’m a pilgrim...