"Ponyo" "Ponyo" "Ponyo." If you've never seen a Hayao Miyazaki movie, no, it's not anime, it's in a league of its own. This surrealist eco-rewrite of "The Little Mermaid" is aimed for the youngest audiences, but so was "My Neighbor Totoro" back in 1988, and that's an elegantly childlike masterpiece. One caveat: Disney's not releasing a subtitled version for the arthouses, so you'll have to content yourself with the vocal stylings of Noah Cyrus and Frankie Jonas (and Tina Fey and Matt Damon and Lily Tomlin). If you're looking for the original soundtrack woth subtitles, you're gonna have to buy the Japanese DVD release and watch it on a region-free player. Don't let me stop you.
"District 9" will be the surprise hit of the late summer, once people get a look at this no-star sci-fi-action epic from South Africa (and, via producer Peter Jackson, New Zealand). Terrific pacing and wit, I just wish writer-director Neill Blomkamp did more with the alien-apartheid concept.
"The Time Traveler's Wife" -- for those who thought "The Lake House" was too realistic. I know you're out there; this movie has your name on it. Too bad Eric Bana behaves like a Level 3 sex offender at times, all in the name of true love. (I'm sorry, but what do you call it when a naked man hides in a bush talking to a six-year-old girl?)
Best moral tale of the weekend: "Lorna's Silence," from Belgium's Dardenne brothers, with an aching performance from Arta Dobroshi as an Albanian immigrant in Liege who makes a bargain with the devil. It's at the Kendall Square.
Biggest surprise of the weekend: "Bandslam" is a good movie. No, really.
About Movie Nation
ContributorsTy Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.
Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.
Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.
Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer for Boston.com.
Take 2 reviews and podcast
Look for new reviews by Ty Burr and Wesley Morris at the end of each week in multiple formats.