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Howl's Moving Castle

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Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki follows up his international hit Spirited Away with this adaptation of a British novel by Diana Wynne Jones; I haven't read the book, but the movie's dreamlike spaces and characters are sometimes worthy of Lewis Carroll. One thing that makes this highly cinematic is the radical fluidity of both age and character: people and objects are constantly transforming, and wisdom doesn't so much succeed callowness as peacefully coexist with it. The heroine, a teenage hatmaker, runs afoul of a wicked witch and gets turned into a 90-year-old woman; she becomes housekeeper for a youthful magician named Howl, tending to the gigantic walking castle where he lives. Whenever she feels romantic stirrings for him, she becomes a teenager again. Voices are by Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Billy Crystal, and Lauren Bacall, among others. PG, 118 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Pipers Alley, River East 21.

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