Japan TV Network Will Acquire Totoro Creator Studio Ghibli as Animation Studio Prepares for Future 

Hayao Miyazaki of Japan, director of the animated film "Ponyo," poses at a special screening of the film in Los Angeles on July 27, 2009. (AP)
Hayao Miyazaki of Japan, director of the animated film "Ponyo," poses at a special screening of the film in Los Angeles on July 27, 2009. (AP)
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Japan TV Network Will Acquire Totoro Creator Studio Ghibli as Animation Studio Prepares for Future 

Hayao Miyazaki of Japan, director of the animated film "Ponyo," poses at a special screening of the film in Los Angeles on July 27, 2009. (AP)
Hayao Miyazaki of Japan, director of the animated film "Ponyo," poses at a special screening of the film in Los Angeles on July 27, 2009. (AP)

Studio Ghibli, the famed Japanese animation studio of Hayao Miyazaki, will become a subsidiary of Nippon Television Network Corp., both sides said Thursday.

Succession worries had been a priority at Ghibli, as Miyazaki has turned 82, and producer Toshio Suzuki is 75, the companies said in a joint statement.

The boards of both companies agreed at meetings Thursday that the major commercial broadcast network will become Studio Ghibli’s top shareholder, with a 42.3% stake. Financial details were not given.

Nippon TV said it will send executives to support Ghibli’s management, while honoring its creative independence so it can focus on animation and other artistic projects.

The deal was first discussed last year at an “onsen” hot springs, the companies said, when Suzuki asked Nippon TV executive Yoshikuni Sugiyama for help in managing Ghibli. Sugiyama promised to give support.

Miyazaki’s son Goro is also an animation director and has been mentioned as a possible successor. But he had expressed doubts, saying the responsibility was too great.

Ghibli and Nippon TV have collaborated in the past, since “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” aired on TV in 1985. Nippon TV has also helped produce various Ghibli works, starting with Miyazaki’s 1989 “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” It also helped set up the museum devoted to Ghibli works in Tokyo.

Earlier this year, Miyazaki finished “The Boy and the Heron,” completed after seven years. It is based on a book but is also loosely based on Miyazaki’s wartime childhood. The Japanese title, which better expresses its theme, translates to: “How Will You Live?”

Miyazaki won an Oscar for his 2001 “Spirited Away.” He has occasionally declared he was retiring but has always returned to his craft.

He has produced an extensive range of animation works enjoyed by adults as well as children, including “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Ponyo.”



Movie Review: ‘Tuesday,’ with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Is Strange, Emotional and Fiercely Original

 This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)
This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)
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Movie Review: ‘Tuesday,’ with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Is Strange, Emotional and Fiercely Original

 This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)
This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)

Death has taken many forms in cinema. It’s been Bengt Ekerot. Ian McKellen. John Cleese. Even Brad Pitt with blonde highlights. But in “Tuesday,” filmmaker Daina O. Pusić's bold, fantastical and affecting debut, death looks like a lot like a macaw that's seen better days.

Covered in a thick layer of grime and oil with patches of feathers missing, “Tuesday’s” Death can be as big as a room or as small as an ear canal. Its booming, gravelly voice (that of actor Arinzé Kene) sounds ancient and otherworldly. And it all adds up to something profoundly unsettling. Not exactly a comforting welcome into the afterlife, or whatever comes next.

“Tuesday,” expanding nationwide Friday, is about death, and acceptance, between a mother and her dying daughter. But this is no Hallmark affair fitting for a sympathy card. It is prickly, wry, somewhat unsentimental, a bit gritty and awfully painful at times. Or maybe it’s just uniquely British. And you may just find yourself in a puddle of your own tears as a result.

Now, in terms of cinematic emotional blackmail, a parent coming to terms with a child’s imminent death is pretty much in the red zone. That sort of setup could produce involuntary tears from an audience regardless of the level of talent involved. Thankfully for us, there is immense creativity and vision both in front of and behind the camera, including not just the writer-director but the special effects experts responsible for Death as well as the haunting and innovative sound design.

Lola Petticrew plays the titular Tuesday, a teen with a “Breathless” pixie cut, a love of jokes and rap music and a terminal illness that has bound her to an oxygen tank and the use of a wheelchair. Her mother, Zora (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), has entirely disconnected from the situation. She tiptoes around the house waiting for the nurse, Billie (a lovely Leah Harvey), to do the caretaking. She stays out all day, pawning household items for cash to pay for the care, ignoring Tuesday’s calls and occasionally falling asleep on park benches. At home, she doesn’t want to talk to Tuesday about anything real — the death, her job, their precarious financial position — it’s all been deeply repressed and compartmentalized and is making everyone crazy.

The day we meet Zora and Tuesday is the day Death arrives. Billie has left Tuesday on the patio for just a minute to start a bath. All of a sudden, the girl who was just joking around is having an episode, gasping for air, when the macaw lands by her side. Death is actually the first character introduced, in an unnerving series of deaths setting an ominous tone that will loom throughout. Some are ready to go, begging for relief. Some are just scared. And all have the same outcome once he’s put his wing around them.

Tuesday, however, decides to tell a joke. This disarms Death (who bursts out laughing) and suddenly they’re in conversation together. She gives him a bath, puts on some music and asks a favor: She’d like to say goodbye to her mom first. Death obliges.

Of course, the story both is and isn’t that simple. “Tuesday” becomes some strange combination of body horror, fairy tale, domestic drama and apocalypse thriller. It is weird and transfixing — never predictable and never boring. Louis-Dreyfus is both chilling and deeply empathetic as this woman who has been paralyzed by grief even before it’s happened. She seems to be preparing for her own death in a way, unable and unwilling to process a life without her daughter who, at this point, doesn’t even realize that her mother still loves her. Petticrew holds her own, going head-to-head with Louis-Dreyfus at her cruelest, exhibiting a wisdom beyond her years and fitting of a person who’s had to grow up and face death far too early.

“Tuesday” is ultimately a cathartic affair, whether death is top of mind at the moment or not. And it announces the arrival of a daring filmmaker worth following.