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Cutie and the Boxer

Cutie and the Boxer is equally inspiring, funny and wise. On its surface, this fly-on-the-wall documentary simply shines a spotlight on adorable husband and wife artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, but filmmaker Zachary Heinzerling masterfully plumbs depths to give us a greater understanding of their marriage in relation to the different art they create… Ushio moved to New York City in the late 60s, gaining acclaim (but little commercial success) for his bold work, which included making motorcycle sculptures out of discarded items like cardboard and doing so-called ‘boxing’ paintings, which consist of him punching a large canvas with boxing gloves dabbed in paint… Initially, it seems that Ushio’s career will be the main emphasis, but slowly Heinzerling reveals his film to be a study of Ushio and Noriko, who is more than 20 years younger than Ushio and moved to New York dreaming of becoming an artist herself before falling in love with this charismatic, talented man… Utilizing Noriko’s autobiographical drawings, which the documentary animates with quiet simplicity, Cutie and the Boxer gives us a sense of how she has been the strong foundation for a marriage approaching 40 years. But rather than making her a martyr, the film reveals this couple’s dynamic to be far more nuanced… Ultimately, the movie celebrates different kinds of commitment, whether it be to the perils of being an artist or to the uncertainty of marriage. Neither pursuit is for the faint of heart.

1hr 22mins long

Zachary Heinzerling
Ushio Shinohara
Noriko Shinohara