”Howl’s Moving Castle” and ”My Neighbor Totoro”
There’s a rueful nostalgia at work in movies by Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. And now that refined 2-D animation has become an endangered species (at least in features), his pictures are doubly retro, and doubly poignant: They speak of lost worlds in a beautiful, just-about-extinct visual language. His latest, Castle, conjures a magnificent, vaguely Victorian-era setting for a fable about a young girl transformed into a crone, while the reissued Totoro magically evokes a countryside suffused with mischievous guardian spirits whom only children can see. Are you CG-weary? Put down those videogames and take a good long look at a pair of old-master treasures.
The English dubs are exceptionally good, though they sound bombastic compared with subtler Japanese tracks. Phooey on the dearth of concept art and lack of proper docs on Miyazaki’s accomplishments. Nevertheless, both rate an A-.