The latest from Studio Ghibli is director and co-writer Isao Takahata's take on a Japanese folktale about a tiny girl found in a bamboo stalk. She rapidly grows into a great beauty, but to her adoptive father's dismay, she seems unusually hesitant to marry. The updates mostly have to do with questions of class and autonomy, with a little existential drama woven in — is tranquility or trial the surer road to happiness? See, the girl is accompanied by a stash of gold and a pile of silks, so Dad sets out to make her a princess, and insinuate himself into society while he's at it. But the family's country life is rendered so gorgeously, it's hard to understand why, exactly. And that gets at the film's really valuable addition: the visuals. There is a fresh and lively urgency in the sketched outlines of characters and unfinished watercolor backgrounds. Add to that the overall delicacy of color, which lends a lightness to the animation, and the term "moving picture" seems especially and happily applicable here. (2013) — Matthew Lickona
This movie is not currently in theaters.