Combustible Celluloid
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With: Noriko Shinohara, Ushio Shinohara, Alex Shinohara, Ethan Cohen
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Zachary Heinzerling
MPAA Rating: R for nude art images
Language: English, Japanese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 82
Date: 08/16/2013

Cutie and the Boxer (2013)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Art Partners

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Zachary Heinzerling's Oscar-nominated documentary Cutie and the Boxer tells the story of 80 year-old artist Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko. (They met when he was in his 40s and she was just 19.) Unable to pay their bills, Ushio prepares for a new exhibition, hoping to sell some of his "boxing" paintings (he bashes the canvas with paint-dipped gloves) and bizarre, colorful motorcycle sculptures. Noriko, for her part, is not content being Ushio's muse or assistant and creates a series of cartoons, entitled "Cutie and Bullie," illustrating their loving, but tumultuous 40 year-marriage, which she also hopes to exhibit.

To his credit, Heinzerling does not spend a lot of time introducing us to the artists or explaining their historical significance. He does include some rare 1970s-era home movie footage of a drunken Ushio for perspective, but the entire focus is on their shorthand as it exists today; their behavior around each other is worth a thousand words.

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