March 7, 2006

DVD Pick of the Week: Howl's Moving Castle

This week has a few interesting releases, but none that jump out and scream the need to be recognized as PotW, but after careful consideration I have been able to come to a decision. This weeks pick may not be an Oscar winner, but it was a nominee.

This week's pick is Hayao Miyazaki's near classic Howl's Moving Castle. It was one of the three nominated films for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and while it was my least favorite of the three, it is an excellent film worthy of being added to your collection.

The story centers on Sophie, a young girl who has a curse placed on her. She embarks on an adventure to find a cure. Along the way she encounters a variety of interesting characters. Her main problem is that she is unable to speak of the curse, which puts a damper on directly asking for help. This story plays out across a backdrop of war, a senseless war which isn't given much time to develop.

The film is rendered in beautifully intricate and detailed hand drawn animation. There is always something to look at throughout the film. The animation may not be as smooth as, say, traditional Disney releases, but I counter that with the incredible detail and love that goes into each frame. On top of that, there is some very good English language performances from the likes of Christian Bale, Billy Crystal, and Sofie Gråbøl as Sophie.

Also coming out this week:
  • The Flintstones: The Complete Fifth Season. The original primetime animated family. How can you not like Fred and the gang?
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Not my favorite of the series, but still a quality film.
  • Jarhead. The first of the new generation war films offers an interesting personal rumination on the hurry up and wait aspect of the war.
  • Just Friends. A dumb fun comedy.
  • Kagero-Za. Not familiar with this one, but Seijun Suzuki's films tend to have something of interest to them.
  • My Neighbor Totoro. Another Miyazaki classic, finally making its way to American shores in a worthy fashion.
  • The Warrior. I saw this film a few years back under the name Musa: The Warrior, an interesting war epic featuring Zhang Ziyi.
  • Zu Warriors. Tsui Hark's magical martial arts epic, I believe this is a remake of a Zu film from the early 1980's, but I'm not sure.

What are you getting this week?

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