In America, for the vast majority of us, our association with Japanese live cinema begins and ends with a man in a giant rubber lizard suit. Perhaps we see it this way, "There are Hong Kong gun flicks, British comedies, American blockbusters, Indian musicals and Japanese toy tank genocides". It is likely many Americans do not appreciate what Japan has to offer in terms of live cinema, beyond Godzilla, because "dubbing looks ridiculous" or "subtitles are hard to read". Fair enough, but you are only shortchanging yourself.
Having an obvious affinity for Japan, I first began my foray into the world of Japanese live cinema, once again not counting the 'gorilla-whale' I had been watching seemingly since birth, with a viewing of Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai" during the latter half of my high school years. Although I appreciated and respected Kurosawa's ambition and originality, I was under whelmed with that particular offering, (although I have rather come to enjoy it after subsequent viewings). I did not see another Japanese film until January 2002 when on a whim my parents rented "Shall We Dance?" not knowing it was a Japanese movie. We were blown away by the exceedingly enjoyable experience. So, still on my winter break, when I returned the tape to Blockbuster ™ I raided the foreign section for Japanese films. Since then I have become a huge fan of Japanese film.
I must admit that my background and education has focused on the study of Chinese film, (not HK cinema), so this is coming from the perspective of a simple fan. If you wish to visit a site that has Japanese film reviews by those who have studied it, I suggest you head to my Links Page and look to the Japanese Entertainment Coverage section. Otherwise, grab a bag of popcorn and let's talk movie talk.