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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 March, 2004, 09:01 GMT
DVD review: Spirited Away
By William Gallagher
BBC News Online

Japanese cartoon Spirited Away won the Oscar for best animated feature in 2003 and now film fans in the UK can catch it on DVD.

Spirited Away
Spirited Away is an uplifting and visually sumptuous

If some UK cinema-goers first overlooked Spirited Away when it was released, it may well have been because, as a Japanese cartoon, they assumed it was for children or that it was manga, and so for teenagers.

But, Spirited Away is really a beautiful film about courage as 10-year-old Chihiro tries to save her parents who have been turned into pigs.

Yet, while Chihiro races to change her parents back, it is really she who is changing.

Initially self-centred, she has to become resourceful and more understanding if she is to succeed.

The extras include a documentary about the film that was originally made for Japanese TV and so is more involved than the standard, cheap Making Of we have become used to on DVD.

Then, there is a feature focusing on the animation and specifically how the artists went from storyboard to final film.

Stella Street

On BBC Two, Stella Street is a comedy series of 10-minute spoofs about celebrities living on a suburban street and running the corner shop.

Stella Street
Stella Street works surprisingly well as a full-length feature

The shorts have now been made into a feature film - and it is surprisingly very good.

The fun of the shorts was partly that they were short and the joke did not wear out but this successfully turns the notion into about 80 minutes.

It begins as an origin story, showing just how these stars came to be here.

Then it is about rivalry and jealousy and is very funny.

There are excellent extras including commentaries. "Michael Caine" takes us on a tour of Soho and takes part in a mock film documentary too.

The West Wing: Season 3

This DVD is an expensive box set of Channel 4's hit US drama series set in the White House.

Fans may consider the episodes to be worth the 59.99 price. But they will still face the West Wing DVD dilemma: whether to buy this now or wait in the hope that there will be a better US release?

There might be, there might not: Warner Brothers will not say.

But, amusingly, Amazon UK is advertising this British release with a picture of the as-yet unannounced US third season DVD.

So it is coming, and you should really wait for it - always assuming you can play US discs, of course.

If you cannot, buy this UK release now and relish it.

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11 Mar 04  |  Film
DVD review: Starsky and Hutch
18 Mar 04  |  Film
Spirited cartoon is enthralling
22 Sep 03  |  Reviews
Japan's madness for manga
18 Sep 03  |  Asia-Pacific
West Wing leads Emmy winners
22 Sep 03  |  TV and Radio


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