Jules Does

Archive for September 2012

My first encounter with David Rakoff was, lamentably, his obituary. It was his connection with David Sedaris which piqued my interest, and I’m glad it did.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable is, as its long subtitle will tell you, a collection of essays dealing with “the indignities of coach class, the torments of low thread count, the never-ending quest for artisanal olive oil, and other first world problems”, and it handles its subjects in a way which is incisive yet simultaneously gentle.

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DISCLAIMER 1: I can count the things I know about anime on one hand using only my thumbs. I’ve heard enough to know that Miyazaki is the master of the art form (although further recommendations in the comments would be much appreciated), but of his work I’ve only seen My Neighbour Totoro, a film which I can only describe as whimsical (which is dangerous, given that ‘whimsical’ is generally applied to 1. Things which aren’t whimsical and are just silly or 2. Wes Anderson). As a result I brought very few preconceptions to Howl’s Moving Castle, although I suspect I would feel differently about it if I had seen Spirited Away, the film which won Miyazaki his Oscar.

DISCLAIMER 2: I have not read the original source material for the film, the book of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, so I can’t compare the treatment of the subject matter in the two media.

That said, let’s get on to the review [Mild spoilers ahead].

The film is about a young lady named Sophie, who is turned into an old woman by a local sorceress, called The Witch of the Wastes, after an encounter with the enigmatic and magnetic wizard Howl. In order to hide her condition from her ditzy mother she runs away onto the Wastes outside her town and, with the help of a sentient scarecrow, she hops onto Howl’s moving castle and sets herself up as the resident cleaner. The newly-minted family faces a variety of challenges, including a looming war with a neighbouring kingdom.

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