I went to see Spirited Away last night at Farnham Maltings, the local arts centre which shows films several times a month. I liked the venue a lot - the rustic and rather tatty Great Hall has well raked seating (unlike many cinemas) so no sightline problems for short people like me. It was also great to turn up at 8 and have the film start on the dot, with no adverts or trailers!
And what a stunning film! This is my first experience of a Japanese anime movie, so I just wasn't prepared for the visual impact of this art-form. Apparently there are even better anime films around - wow, that's hard to imagine!
I've read criticisms (on IMDB) that this film doesn't have much of a story-line. Well, I suppose so, if you have been used to Hollywood type story construction (conflict, conflict, conflict, smart-ass dialogue, action set-piece every 10 minutes). It seems to me that Spirited Away follows the ancient fairy-story shape of a child finding a doorway into another world where she meets archetypal figures, converses with beautiful or terrifying spirits, and embarks on fantastic adventures. Echoes of C S Lewis, E Nesbit, Lord Dunsany, Brothers Grimm and so on back into the timeless depths of folklore.