My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

A film so effortlessly well-executed its only upon reflection just how unconventional it is becomes clear. So freeflowing in structure, so devoid of plot or an antagonist, elements that feel antithetical to regular children’s cinema (an unresolved subplot about an ill mother, entirely conflict-less positively portrayed parent figures) a slice of life without acts, even…

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Studio Ghibli’s second film, directed by Isao Takahata rather than studio head Hayao Miyazaki, is a breathtakingly powerful war drama following two Japanese children in the waning days of World War II. Focusing squarely on the children’s perspective, the personal tragedies and struggles of wartime rather than any bigger-picture or adult view, gives rise to…

Castle in the Sky (1986)

The first Studio Ghibli film, “Castle in the Sky” is full of director Hayao Miyazaki mainstays – iconic and imaginative imagery, fascination with flight, worldbuilding backed by a sense of wonder that feels more sprung from a child’s infinite imagination than a grown man’s, and so on. The film is so bursting with inventiveness drawn…

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

More of a proto-Ghibli movie than Miyazaki’s “The Castle of Cagliostro” was, “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” demonstrates a lot more of what the studio would come to be known for – greatly imaginative settings, scenes of flying and planes, optimism rendered in melancholy worlds, well-realised female characters as leads, the strength of…

The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

A pre-Ghibli film from Hayao Miyazaki. It was produced in only a short manner of months and feels like it, its speedy pace at odds with the little humanistic moments and flourishes of nature that Miyazaki seemed more interested in. It’s an action-packed caper and sometimes gets bogged down in its plotting, but the general…

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

“Avengers: Infinity War” is a strange film to really consider. More sequel to “Thor: Ragnorak” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” than its titular predecessors, it’s a significant juggling act of nearly all the principal characters Marvel Studios have built films around for the last ten years. The division of screentime for the glut…

Twice Upon a Time (2018) by Paul Cornell

A very faithful reproduction of the titular Christmas special, for better or worse. Paul Cornell novelising Steven Moffat’s last televised work on Doctor Who feels like it should be a monumental occasion, but what’s on the page is a very literal direct translation of the special into prose, with the odd grace note from Cornell’s…