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Mary (center) sees a school for witches in Mary and the Witch’s Flower.

We’re still at a loss as to why Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s anime film The Secret World of Arrietty wasn’t a bigger success when it came out, but his latest film Mary and the Witch’s Flower plays in local movie theaters this Thursday, so you can see this intriguing young talent from Japan.

The film is based on Mary Stewart’s 1971 novel The Little Broomstick (which clearly inspired J.K. Rowling) about a 12-year-old English girl who finds an enchanted flower in the forest and is whisked away to a secret school where young witches are educated. Mary turns out to possess a natural talent for casting spells, which doesn’t quite explain why the couple who run the school are so friendly to her. The real glory is the middle section, when a talking cat named Flanagan gives Mary her first look at the school and all the magical gadgets and perks available to the students.

The theaters will be screening these in both subtitled and English-dubbed versions. Going with such an English story, the dubbed version might be a more compelling draw than usual, especially with voices by Ruby Barnhill (from The BFG), Kate Winslet, and Jim Broadbent.

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Mary and the Witch’s Flower screens at 7pm & 8pm at various movie theaters; check Calendar for showtimes. Tickets are $15. Call 818-761-6100. 

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