Got kids? Been a kid yourself? Looking to recapture that feeling innocence and wonder? You're going to want to keep reading, then.
Tomorrow (Saturday), TIFF Cinematheque launches Spirited Away: The Films Of Studio Ghibli, a retrospective that puts the celebrated Japanese animation house's feature films back on the big screen at the Lightbox - and just in time for spring break!
Arriving a few weeks after the Western debut of Ghibli's most recent feature, The Secret World Of Arrietty, the series assembles 15 features, offering most of them in separate dubbed and subtitled presentations.
There are some exceptions: recent features Howl's Moving Castle and Ponyo are only available in their dubbed versions, while early works Only Yesterday, My Neighbours The Yamadas and The Ocean Waves are strictly subtitled.
I blow hot and cold on Studio Ghibli myself; I have the feeling that revered producer-director Hayao Miyazaki too often settles for a jumble of random dreamlike imagery, and fails to create an internal logic for most of the puzzles he sets for his characters. You know that Simpsons episode where Lucy Lawless begs the characters to forgive the inconsistencies of Xena, Warrior Princess by insisting "a wizard did it"? Well, Miyazaki is the wizard.
That said, when he's on his game, there's no one better; if you've never experienced the giddy whimsy of Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbour Totoro, you're going to want to book those tickets immediately. Princess Mononoke may occasionally stumble under the weight of a mythology that never quite resolves itself, but its action sequences are terrific - as are the exhilarating highs of Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, which kicks the series off in its dubbed version Saturday morning.
It's not a perfect retrospective, as it excludes Isao Takahata's wrenching Grave Of The Fireflies - one of the key productions in the Ghibli catalogue, and the only one that's not part of the studio's North America distribution deal with Disney. We'll have to make do with the DVD on that one.