Sunday, July 27, 2014

Innovative Documentary: The Unforgettable Cutie and The Boxer

Movie Review: Cutie and The Boxer

Director: Zach Heinzerling

Reviewed: 26 July 2014

jamesintexas rating--***1/2

Zach Heinzerling's innovative documentary Cutie and The Boxer starts out as a chronicling of the life of aged artist Ushio Shinohara, an artist know for dipping boxing gloves with sponges into paint and punching his way across a campus. However, Heinzerling subtly shifts gears and focuses in just as much on Ushio's wife Noriko, herself an artist who has had to put her career on hold to support her husband and raise their son. Set in their ramshackle but intensely beautiful apartment in New York City, the film explores the nature of artistry and what it means to support an artist. Noriko's drawings of heroine Cutie have never been revealed to an audience like her more well-known husband's paintings and sculptures. Noriko's self-definition and stepping out into the light require a recalibration of their relationship at this very late age, making for fascinating cinema.

Heinzerling captures the astonishing intimacy of the creation of the artwork, the packaging and marketing of a gallery show, as well as using animation to take us inside Noriko's drawings. The couple's shared history is documented through home movies and archival footage of them as a younger couple. I would be astonished to know if Heinzerling knew where this story would go. Cutie and The Boxer exists as a singular and unique portrait of an artistic couple growing and healing, moving forward while struggling as artists. There are many moments of unspoken pain with echo through their respective art.

The final shot achieves a quiet perfect beauty of equilibrium. I highly recommend this film.

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