After a whirlwind party weekend with friends we closed out the weekend low-key style with a trip to The Sunshine (hadn't been there since moving way uptown but I love that theater). Went to see Howl's Moving Castle. Fans of Spirited Away and Princess Mononokewill find much to enjoy here. (I haven't seen Hayao Miyazaki's earlier work but it's all on my Netflix queue). He is such an enchanting filmmaker that it's easy to forgive this film's less forceful and less moving narrative. Castle is always involving but it loses steam in its last third and suffers from a deus ex machina forcing it suddenly until the realm of the improbably joyous ending.
When discussing any great filmmaker it's easy to say "this one is not as good as some others" but keep in mind that that's misleading ~obviously the bar is pretty high to begin with. True to Miyazaki form, there are huge helpings of glittering, oozing, hopping, magical images in Howl's Moving Castle. That's more than enough to recommend any movie. There is also that lovely and peculiar sense of shifting loyalties, a rare treat for animated features, which comes from Miyazaki's gift at rounding out characters. Never what they first appear to be, the villains are never 100% evil and the heroes never come without considerable flaws.