Whereas I tend to write all evening long at home doing blogs and what not, Michael is a movie buff and has introduced me to a whole new world of Japan that I had never seen or heard of before.
I had never really partaken of Japan's movies and television because I lack Michael's skill in the Japanese language. He spent five years in Tokyo, I believe - just after I left - and really immersed himself into the culture in a way that I, sadly, did not. He learned the language and thus had far greater experiences with the country than myself who is just a gaijin (foreigner) peering in through a glazed window.
He, like my friend Matthew Hall, experienced Japan in greater detail. And while each was curious in his own way, like myself, we all had different interests.
Me? I liked to talk to people. I would actually interview them. My skills as a journalist with one of the better newspapers in North America enabled me to ask the right questions to get the information I desired... which can be difficult when you don't speak the language... but I found, much to my chagrin, that more people in Japan actually DO speak the language that you might expect...yes... they stammer and hem and haw searching for the right word... but dammit, they do a great job with a language (English) that is as foreign to them as Japanese is to me. They just did it better than me. As such, I was always grateful when they would talk to me in English... while I puttered around at my Grade One level Japanese.
Michael, as mentioned, loved the movies. He introduced me via book to one Donald Richie. I've had that book for six months of or more now... and want to give it back - but not until I write about it. Richie is perhaps the greatest foreigner to ever learn anything about Japanese film. He's also an interesting writer... writing similar to myself when I'm being serious. He can be flowery and use Japanese words I don't understand - which is WHY I always try and put in an English definition where possible.
Michael does that to me sometimes, too. He speaks Japanese sentences at me and most of the time I am too stunned be his expertise to have a chance in hell at decoding what he actually said. I think he thinks I'm smarter than I actually am. But he's a very good friend of mine, and I thank him for sharing his friendship with me.
Did you know the first time I met him, we editors had a meeting - and he was quickly introduced. After hearing his name, I was mesmerized by the fact that he wore purple socks. And I immediately kidded him about them. Aside from Donnie Osmond, I knew of no man who wore purple socks. He impressed me with his bravery and earned my respect at that subtle way of showing that he didn't really give a crap about what others might think, just that he was happy with himself. That was an awesome lesson I learned... and the first of many.
Anyhow... having introduced me to more than a few Japanese flicks, he pointed out this website called the Midnight Eye... which contains review after review of Japanese film and television. Stuff I had heard of but had never seen before.
If Michael says I should check out the website because I can learn something, I should point it out to you. Granted you may have to actually know of a movie or actor to type into the search engine on the website to find out what you want, but this English language site has some very well-written reviews that it doesn't matter if I have no idea where to start.
Start at the beginning... and read and read and read. I'm in the process of doing that.
It has expanded my knowledge of Japanese television and cinema and was made me want to seek out certain movies to watch for myself.
Should you wish to learn about the movies (and television) of Japan, Michael and I suggest you check out the Midnight Eye: HERE.