• The lovingly realized humanities society of From Up on Poppy Hill

Tomorrow is your last chance to see Studio Ghibli’s From Up on Poppy Hill at the Landmark Century in Lakeview. Like all of Ghibli’s releases, the film benefits greatly from a big-screen presentation. At that scale one can appreciate even individual brushstrokes of the hand-drawn animation, and the human insights of Hayao Miyazaki’s screenplay assume a greater authority as well. The movie leaves town after just two weeks, which is a bit disappointing considering Ponyo and The Secret World of Arrietty both received extended Chicago runs in the past few years.

The problem, I suppose, is that Poppy Hill doesn’t sound all that interesting on paper. Set in early-60s Tokyo, it’s about an adolescent girl who befriends a literature-loving boy at her high school. Their relationship is chaste, nothing especially traumatic happens to either of them, and the film is so specific in its focus that it doesn’t really succeed as a historical portrait. Yet the movie is so wise and humane about the experience of growing up that its low-key developments register as major incidents. Yasujiro Ozu’s late films (e.g., Ohayo, Late Autumn) seem an appropriate point of reference here.