Cutie and the Boxer (2013) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
23 Reviews
Sort by:
Do we look like who we are? How'd we got to be who we are? Also, I can't remember my age.
Eric Gifford31 January 2013
My full review: boxer.html.

I have come to a stage in life where I sometimes forget how old I am. I find that when I think about my age I have to stop a second and recheck my calculations. I'm pretty good at head math and remembering numbers but I find this one doesn't quite stick.

I had an opportunity to attend the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and see Cutie and the Boxer, a documentary film by Zachary Heinzerling about Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, an aging Japanese married couple - both artists - living in New York City. As I've reflected on the film one of the most prominent thoughts that surfaces is age.

Age is perhaps our most defining physical characteristic. Maybe even more than race. And just like race and ethnicity, the physical cues that point to age can be misleading. It's easy to judge someone based on how old we think they are. We look at someone and we can make a guess. As we get older some people define themselves less by their age and focus more on the way they feel. Maybe that's why I can't remember my age that well. That or I'm just getting older. In Cutie and the Boxer we see first an older couple, and then throughout the film we see more of who they really are and how they see themselves.

Zachary Heinzerling's documentary Cutie and the Boxer is not a film primarily about age, although it invokes thoughts about aging. It's a film about the relationship between a husband and a wife and the sacrifices it takes to dedicate your life to someone else. Back when they first met, Ushio was already a prominent avant garde artist, having made an impact in Japan and rubbing shoulders with people like Andy Warhol in New York. He was most famous for his boxing paintings. To create these pieces of art Ushio dresses himself up very much like a boxer, including strapping on boxing gloves with sponges dipped in paint. He then energetically punches a large canvas as he moves from right to left. The experience of creating these paintings, which takes only a couple of minutes, epitomizes who Ushio is and how he sees himself as an artist. He appreciates characteristics like power, energy, spontaneity, and movement. Also famous for his motorcycle and dinosaur sculptures, he likes to name his exhibits with words like "Vroom!!" and "Roaarrr!"

According to her own story, Noriko was a young and eager artist fresh off the boat. She met Ushio, over 20 years her senior, and quickly entwined her life with his, giving up her own aspirations as an artist in the process. Jump forward after a child and 39 years of marriage and we them first as any other couple, with their quirks and recurring arguments. We quickly realize that Noriko set a precedence very early on in their relationship by making significant sacrifices in her lifestyle to accommodate Ushio and his needs. Now, after four decades together, she's undergoing a retrospective of her life and breaking out as the artist she always meant to be. Ushio's career seems to be gaining new momentum as well.

The film follows from there, laying out small but defining interactions between Ushio and Noriko over a two-year period. Beautifully filmed and beautifully portrayed, it splices in principal photography, archive footage covering multiple periods of their life, and the fantastical world of each of their art - especially the animation of Cutie's world. The animation is based on Noriko's comic about Cutie and the Bullie, her caricatured interpretation of herself and Ushio.

During the Q&A the director was asked why he decided to call the film Cutie and the Boxer when Noriko's comic named them Cutie and the Bullie. He answered that it just sounded better to him. I think the better answer - which he probably could've answered - is that it reflects the identity each of the characters would give themselves, even though neither is completely accurate. It's how they see their idealized selves. Noriko envisions herself as Cutie, the independent female artist able to overcome and tame her love-needy but headstrong husband. Ushio sees himself as the prize fighter and artistic genius of the family, his boxing paintings as a symbol of his power and art and therefore his dominance in their relationship. The reality of how each of these identities has manifested over the years is the result we see on the screen.

It's true that at first glance the film can seem to portray Ushio as uncaring, prideful, and jealous. It's an example of one of those relationships where the woman, due to the man's negligence and denial, has to take over the practical functioning of the family. But Heinzerling also hinted at something that the movie subtly tells you as you watch: that Ushio is a good and dedicated man and that he and Noriko have come to an unspoken arrangement. Ushio has a vibrant and open personality and is honest, but his love is need-based. And, although she has struggled with it for their 40+ years together, Noriko is OK with that. She might even be willing to do it all again.
27 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Poignant Knockout of a Film
clg2381 September 2013
This is a stunning film for several reasons: Foremost, it is a convincingly honest portrayal of the life of two artists. I cannot recall a film that got the life of an artist right—without an agenda, without false sentiment, without noticeable dishonesty. As a writer I felt I fully understood what Heinzerling managed to convey about the Shinoharas' personal visions without his having to resort to the conventional format of most documentaries. Second, the film is a totally engrossing portrait of a complicated relationship. Unlike most films about famous people, there is no narration here telling us what to think of Ushio and Noriko. They speak for themselves. They reveal themselves, for better and occasionally for worse. I usually resist films that are charming but this one has charm that is utterly irresistible. Third, the film casts light on the kind of work these artists do and have done. Fourth, we get to see the artists when they are not creating; that is, we get to know a little more about their inner lives and their external activities. Fifth, the artists themselves are utterly compelling personalities.
20 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The brilliance of the movie is what a downer it can be
subxerogravity10 August 2015
I was expecting a movie about a brilliant but not really well known artist and the woman behind him. I was expecting the movie to explore their long relationship. This is what I got, but what hit me from left field was how the movie focused on boxing painter Ushio Shinohara's wife Noriko, as she used the film (and her art) to pent her frustration of her life being over shadowed by a semi self destructive genius.

It was an interesting story of a young girl who leap into her ideals without looking and more so fell in love with an ideal that embodied Ushio Shinohara.

Cutie and the Boxer gives off a strange feeling. It's a downer without being depressing. She never gives the impression that you should feel sorry for her. After all, she lived her dreams, it just did not turn out as she thought it would. I'm sure a lot of artist feel the same about their struggle.

It's a brilliant movie about two struggling artist both financially emotionally and in the case of Cutie artistically.

And I love how the filmmaker allows the narrative to tell most of the story with very little voice over or interview. He points the camera at Cutie and The Boxer and lets it tell the tale with inter cuts of home movies archive footage and moving graphics of Cutie's Art. I learned so much about the couple in this matter and it was clear without adding too many traditional documentary device.

Definitely, one of the most interesting subjects I've seen for a documentary.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man
evanston_dad7 March 2014
My wife and I have sat through countless biopics about famous artists, and after virtually every one we have the same thought: the movie would have been so much more interesting if it had focused on the artist's life partner instead of the artist. Famous artists in general are a boring bunch -- what's interesting about them is the art they produce. But the people who have to make a life with an artist -- they're the ones whose heads I want to get a peek at.

"Cutie and the Boxer" is a documentary about well-known artist Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. He's 80, she's 60. They live hand-to-mouth in NYC, never sure how they're going to pay their rent from one month to the next. Noriko is incredibly supportive of the self-absorbed Ushio, to the detriment of her own career as an artist. The film is a day-in-the-life story about these two and the dynamic between them. It's a portrait of a marriage that has been wildly successful on the one hand (they're still together and seem to be very much in love) and full of regret on the other (disappointment in themselves for the mess of a son they raised). Noriko teases Ushio constantly about what a jerk he is and how she doesn't know why she puts up with him. Ushio laughs but looks uneasy -- we don't blame him, because Noriko's teasings always seem to built on a foundation of true resentment.

The lives of Ushio and Noriko are about as different from mine as possible, yet the thing that makes "Cutie and the Boxer" so good is its appeal is universal. Anyone who's made a true effort at building a life with a partner should find something to relate to in this film.

Grade: A
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The average one has to support the genius.
Ben Larson4 January 2014
Age is a funny thing. Most days I really feel my age, but from outward appearances, most people guess well below my actual years.

As we age, we tend to think of dying and disease. One of the partners in a marriage is usually suffering more than the other. You have to sometimes forget your troubles to tend to the other.

This film is about a married couple who have reached that point in their lives. We see how they see themselves and their partner. Noriko willingly made sacrifices for Ushio, but now she wants to develop her own interests.

The dance between these two artists is fascinating, tender, and sometimes loud, but never boring.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Scenes from a difficult marriage . . .
The_Film_Cricket18 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Whenever I hear that a couple has been married for a long time, say 40 or 50 or even 60 years, my mind tries to consider how such a thing is possible. What keeps people together? How do they manage a marriage that takes up 80% of their lives? How do you settle with another person indefinitely? How do you deal, year after year, with someone who drives you crazy? "Cutie and the Boxer" is a fascinating fly-on-the-wall documentary that chooses one married couple as a means of answering those very questions. Noriko and Ushio Shinohara are a Japanese couple who have been married for 40 years. They aren't quite equals. He's an abstract artist who hasn't exactly made himself a household name. Noriko seems to function, more or less, as a dutiful housewife. She cooks, she cleans and she complains about his expensive trips to show off art that don't yield much money. He throws off her complains with "Hey, it's something." Ushio's art - which he creates by punching a canvas with paint-dipped boxing gloves - is popular but, he admits, nothing that anyone really wants to buy (watching him create the piece is more fun than the actual result). He also sculpts large grotesque and colorful sculptures of motorcycles that look cool in a museum but aren't anything that anyone wants in their home.

Noriko exists, more or less, off in the corner of Ushio's life. She tolerates his attempts to supplement a living making art that no one will pay money for. Oh, he makes a little, but we can see that his meager income has forced them into a cramped living space in Brooklyn, with spaces filled by his art and other assorted clutter. She complains about the cost, then later he comes home and slaps money on the table with a "so there" satisfaction.

The most wonderful thing about "Cutie and the Boxer" is the way in which it simply leaves us alone to observe Noriko and Ushio. This is a movie completely devoid of talking heads. We learn about them through their experience with each other and some flashback information that shows us how they met that gives us a template of how they got where they are. They met in New York City, in 1969. Noriko was a 19 year old art student; Ushio was 40 and making avant-garde art. It was a good plan but then real life burst in the door. They got married and circumstances forced her to be housewife and supporter of a struggling artist who would spend the next 40 years in a state of professional stalemate.

Presently, we see Noriko struggling to recapture her dream, drawing a series of cartoons called "Cutie and Bullie" which depict her life with Noriko through cherubic characters that are half-autobiographical and half-pornographic. Their bond is touching, but we wonder what keeps them going. As the movie opens, they have cake together Ushio woofs it down and gets frosting on his face. Noriko tells him to wipe it off but he ignores her. "I don't listen to you," he tells her. "That is how I stay young." It is that kind of connective resistance that keeps them together. They are contentious, combative, competitive, yet somehow strangely affectionate. There are moments that the camera captures that no screenwriter could invent. Take a moment late in the film when Ushio finishes one of his paintings. He asks Noriko what she thinks. "It's not good", she says. Then the camera lingers on Ushio's face, he's hurt and a little upset, but he never tells his wife. The scene shifts to sometime later and we can still see the pain on his face.

Their competitive nature exists all through their marriage. That's especially true at they draw to an upcoming art exhibition in a New York gallery in which they will both be showing off their work. "Art is a demon that drags you along," Ushio says. "It's something you can't stop even if you should." What he doesn't admit is that their respective artistic visions are the glue that binds their marriage together.

***1/2 (of four)
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A tale of two masterful artists in an unfamiliar territory.
Reno Rangan15 February 2014
It was the perfect title name. Cutie (Noriko) is an illustrator and her husband Bullie (Ushio) is 20 years older than her who is a craft maker live in New York city. Usually documentaries about successful people would consider as inspiration. But this movie features two Japanese born couples who are masterful in art and crafts and their unsuccessful career. A good opportunity for us, a lesson to learn from their mistakes in life. Simultaneously, their relationship inspires about how to share happiness as well to face the worst situations.

This movie won't only tell about the art and crafts, but also the romantic life. Especially it clearly denotes the difference between east and west regarding relationships. Married life is full of ups and downs, taking part in all the situation together is a true commitment. In this movie, it explains very nicely those subplots alongside main theme. When Bullie was in a trouble Cutie gave a solid support, that is what every man asks for. They too had small-small fights sometime big. In the west, that is enough one to get divorced.

This story is set when Bullie celebrates his 80th birthday. It was amazing to know their 40 year relationship stood unbreakable. But what I bothered was their son Alex who was totally discarded in between these two's life's struggles. Too bad that he became alcoholic like his father that led him failure in life. This movie won't tell much about Alex, he appears only for a few minutes. At those times it is clearly understandable about failed parenting.

Success won't only come from the true dedication, sometimes it depends on others too. It requires identifying their talent and give an opportunity to work and right value for their products. This couple's talent was not recognized due to the people of society who are unfamiliar with this kinda art. I believe if they would have lived those 40 years in Japan it would have been different lifestyle they could experienced. Only the time and place they had was wrong.

3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Doubtful anyone will read this review.
Markus Emilio Robinson15 February 2014
"Love is a roarrrr!!" This is the theme which echoes throughout Oscar nominee for best documentary "Cutie and the Boxer"; a movie that undoubtedly nobody has heard of.

More about Cutie than the Boxer: Starting off as an attempt to shine light on artist Ushio Shinorhara, best known for his avant-garde pieces and action paintings from the late 60's to today, where he physically uses everything from his fists to his forehead as a paintbrush, director Zachary Heinzerling lays out an introspective story of this somewhat eccentrically generic artist as he sets up a gallery exhibition. But in an odd twist of fate, Heinzerling inadvertently captures a far more interesting subplot surrounding Shinohara's much younger wife, Noriko, giving audiences a look at the portrait of a strained marriage, filled with alcoholism and regret, where Noriko (a very talented artist herself) lives in her husband's shadow, as she likens her marriage to "two flowers growing in the same pot." Opening with the striking image of an 80 year old Asian man putting on comically large boxing gloves, dipping them into black paint and proceeding to aggressively pummel a white canvas, which stands twice his size, it would be easy to say this is a doc which contains some imagery that commands attention. But more so, "Cutie and the Boxer" contains more intriguing nuances within its character analysis. Especially during the latter portions, where Heinzerling focuses more on Noriko and her hand drawn animations; animations which star a quite liberated female character, who goes by the name "Cutie". During this section of the film "Cutie and the Boxer" takes its purest and most developed form, as these character's true motivations become transparent.

Heinzerling uses the most creative means possible to bring different layers of this story to life and the cinematography is pretty great (the final shot was subtly the most artistic image in the entire film). But although the meat of this worked for me, I never felt as engaged with the subjects or subject matter as I believe Heinzerling would have liked me to.

Final Thought: "Cutie and the Boxer" is honestly a movie that, from the poster alone, I was dreading to have to sit down and watch. Now, was I blown away after I finished this? No. But if you are on Netflix and interested in watching a film regarding a case of female liberation masquerading as an art documentary, then "Cutie and the Boxer" is an interesting enough watch.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Cutie and the Boxer
emilyelizabeth128326 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Zachary Heinzerling's documentary is crafted as masterfully as any art film I've seen. The subjects–two Japanese-American artists who work in New York City, Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. Accented by telling moments and minutes of silence, thought, and reminiscences, the film exposes one of the truly beautiful and mystifying characteristics of the Japanese language. So much is exposed in so very few words, but those words are accompanied by expressions of emotion and 'understood' acknowledgments that seem unfinished or cut off to someone who does not speak Japanese. As an appropriate demonstration of the expression of these two lives and the communication they've shared, the film is framed by live creation of art by the two artists. Ushio creates "action painting" by hitting a canvas with sponges attached to boxing gloves, and Noriko composes a story in drawings creating the character "Cutie" based on her own life, but with elements that are only realized in Noriko's fantasies.

One of the most striking things about this film is the fact that it captures moments that seem unbearably awkward to me but are received matter-of-factly by Ushio and Noriko in turn. There is a sense of pride present in Ushio, which he expresses unabashedly at times in the film, but there are also incredibly humbling moments of relinquishing that pride that delivered by an American artist may come off as tongue-in-cheek, but delivered by Ushio is completely straightforward and blanched. His situation is what it is, there is no reason to try to disguise it. Their ceiling is leaking and they may not be able to pay rent this month. Shikata ga nai, "It can't be helped." The two of them were brought together by the connection and agreement they shared when considering their art to be the absolute priority of their lives. This focus unfortunately caused a deterioration in other parts of their life together, particularly when Noriko has a child. The life of these struggling artists seems to have been punctuated by long periods of distraction. Because in reality, especially trying to live in New York City, art cannot always be the 24/7 preoccupation you want it to be, there is an alternative mindset that may take the place of despair, one that colors the world with the colors similar to the artist's palate, keeping the shelf prepped and continuously in view no matter what else is going on. Noriko and Ushio have long ago determined to live their lives the way they alone see their lives. One of full of color and life, necessary sadness and equally necessary resilience. I don't think that their perspectives lack recognition of the regrets they carry with them, as their discussion of their son's alcoholism similar to his father's demonstrates. The film utilizes close-ups of Noriko in particular to highlight the presence of pain, but it does not run rampant in her mind, knocking over tables. Instead it seems like a silent observer, taking in the reality around it without trying to escape in any way.

The varied and abrupt cuts throughout the film create a patchwork that for me makes the film seem like I am looking through a photo album instead of following a narrative, and I like this. It's like walking through an art gallery where many different themes and impressions are introduced and it is up to the viewer to take in what he or she will and to assign relevance where it lies in each mind.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
I liked the camera-work and style more than I liked the subjects of the documentary.
MartinHafer18 January 2014
"Cutie and the Boxer" has been nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary (full-length) and this is why I chose to watch it. This is not the sort of picture I would normally chose, though I love documentaries.

The film is about a very strange family of bohemian artists living in New York. Ushio Shinohara is a struggling artist who reached 80 during the filming. He seems to have a strong penchant for making odd sculptures of motorcycles as well as murals he makes by donning boxing gloves and strapping sponges to them and then punching the canvas with paint on them. For the most part, his art seems to be 'outsider art'--stuff that has not sold well and his wife and son have lived in relatively primitive conditions. As for the wife, Noriko, she is much younger and came to the US for her art. However, she soon met Ushio and pretty much gave up on her career to take care of Ushio and their son. It appears as if taking care of Ushio is pretty much a full-time job, though now that they are older, Noriko is returning to her art and making work that appears similar to that of Jean Cocteau.

While I have described the couple briefly, I wasn't particularly interested in their art nor did I particularly like them. I hope this isn't the purpose of the film, as it didn't instill these feelings in me. Instead, I at least appreciated it on a sociological level. The idea of a talented woman completely subjugating herself and her art in favor of the man and his career is interesting...and a bit sad.

So did I like the film? No. But I did appreciate the filmmakers' work. There were some interesting camera-work (particularly with the swimming scene) and it must have taken a lot of work following the well as patience. All in all, I didn't see in the film what most other reviewers or the AMPAS (the Oscar folks) people saw in the film. It was just okay and just left me pretty flat. Of the other nominees, "The Act of Killing" and "The Square" are much, much more engaging and impressive films. So is "Dirty Wars". I have not yet seen the final nominee, "20 Feet From Stardom".

UPDATE: Saw "20 Feet From Stardom". It was fun but took zero risks and did not impress me...and it took home the Oscar.
4 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Cutie and the boxer review.
dlmcd32530 October 2014
The purpose of "Cutie and the Boxer" was to show people what marriage is all about. It showed the good times and the bad times. And even after all the struggle and all the pain they are still together, Happy. "Cutie and the Boxer" was about a couple who has been together for about 40 years and were artists. Ushio and Noriko were artists that wanted to be successful so bad they have spent most of their life chasing their dreams in New York. I really enjoyed the happy times in the documentary were it just showed them being together, happy. I learned that you can't be a master at anything if you don't try. It really surprised me when their son Alex showed his artwork, he was really good. I felt as though his work was better than his parents. I would recommend this documentary to people because I really enjoyed watching this. 10/10.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Cutie & The Boxer
bjohnson0132828 October 2014
Cutie and the Boxer was a very homey comfortable, documentary. I like how the documentary shows that sacrifice is something that happens common when you are genuinely in love.Cutie was the supporting, loving, giving partner in the relationship. Boxer was more cocky, loud, and silly partner in the relationship. My favorite thing about this documentary is that you can see how real they are with each other, struggles and all. Heinzerling did a great job showing us how the couple sees themselves and how they see each other. I like how Ushio and Noriko speak for themselves, no narration no explanation. I would recommend this film to anyone who's a sucker for love, this film shows what its really like.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Cutie and The Boxer
keeara24 October 2014
I think the purpose of this film is to provide viewers insight on the life of a married couple. The mental and physical strain each partner experiences throughout the marriage. Also I think it was meant to show the life's of struggling artists. I think personally this couple is lacking affection and there actions show it for sure throughout the film. In the beginning of the film I got the feeling that art is what brought them together and toward the end I felt art is what is keeping them together. Watching this film made me appreciate art more.I really enjoyed the significance of the film which felt was the couple it's self.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Candid Portrait of a 40-Year Artistic Marriage
l_rawjalaurence9 April 2014
CUTIE AND THE BOXER is a no-holds barred documentary focusing on the 40- year marriage of Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko. Ushio established his reputation in Japan as a leading avant-garde artist before emigrating to the United States; since his marriage in the early Seventies, it's clear he has assumed a dominant role as artist and alcoholic, seldom taking much notice of his wife, also an artist. Zachary Heinzerling's film shows how Noriko carved out a niche for herself by creating designs for herself, focusing on a character called Cutie and her struggles for self-determination. The subjects of such designs are very closely related to Noriko's own life; it's clear she has experienced a difficult time trying to put up with a difficult husband - who throughout his life has found it hard to make a living through his art - and a son who drinks too much. It's a tribute to her stoicism that she not only manages to retain her artistic voice, but creates designs of her own that satirize her husband. Ushio, by now a reformed alcoholic, views his wife's paintings indulgently; they don't represent a threat to his masculinity, nor his status as an artist. In truth Noriko's designs are far more expressive than her husband's - although Ushio claims to produce material that will show a "new" artist, he only ever produces copies of work created several decades previously. Director Heinzerling makes no judgment on either of the protagonists, but leaves us to make up our own minds, What is perhaps most admirable is the way the couple have stayed together through thick and thin - despite their differences, they are obviously still in love with one another.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An Interesting Switch
gavin69423 March 2014
This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role as her overbearing husband's assistant, Noriko finds an identity of her own.

One might think this film would be about Ushio Shinohara, and in some ways it is. But the focus is really on Noriko, which turns out to be the more powerful story -- the woman who pursued a dream, got pregnant, and spent the next several decades being a wife, mother and babysitter. One gets the impression that without Noriko, there could be no Ushio -- he would have died penniless, drunk in a gutter years earlier.

While not the strongest of the documentary nominees, it is perhaps the most human and deserves some recognition for that. How it lost to "20 Feet From Stardom" is something of a mystery...
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Art is Messy
David Ferguson23 February 2014
Greetings again from the darkness. This finishes off my viewing of the five Oscar nominated documentary features. Filmmaker Zachary Heinzerling starts us off on the 80th birthday of Ushio Shinohara. His wife Noriko has provided individual serving cakes and his has a number 3 candle on it. The candle has no significance other than they "don't have 80 candles". The rest of the movie is about what this couple does and does not have.

Ushio has had quite a career as an artist, starting with his Neo-Dadaism movement in Japan and carrying over to his popularity in New York City with his sculptures made from discarded items and his "boxing" paintings, of which we get to see the in-action video. It's no secret that Ushio and Noriko are struggling financially ... they discuss past due rent and utilities. We then learn that Ushio had once been quite popular and influential in the art world. His work has been displayed at many of the most famous museums and galleries, and Andy Warhol's pop art was inspired by Ushio's work.

But this story is about much more than the roller coaster ride of an artist. It's even more about a 40 year marriage/relationship/partnership and the accompanying frustrations of one artist living in the shadow of another. We often sense the resentment coming from Noriko as she fills us in on her perspective, and we witness firsthand the challenges of living with Ushio. Home movies take us back to the early years and the destructive force of Ushio's alcoholism. When Noriko offered her assistance to the older artist and then soon became pregnant, her passion for art was shelved. All these years later, her frustrations come pouring out through a mostly autobiographical story book illustration of Cutie (Noriko) and Bullie (Ushio).

We only get brief glimpses of their son Alex, but enough to see that he is also a struggling artist, and regrettably, also an alcoholic. Maybe the single biggest moment occurs when Ushio utters "the average one should support the genius". In other words, Noriko is correct when she accuses him of viewing her as a "free assistant" and a "free chef". So while Ushio says "art is messy", it's also obvious that life is every bit as messy, and that art and life offer no separation for this couple.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Pathetic couple, miserable life and
BasicLogic31 December 2013
a lie that has this man maintained 80 years, a mirage that has fooled this woman for 58 years. my my my, what a pathetic story about a Japanese immigrants who have been considering themselves as artists. i couldn't help thinking when people who hate American fast food chain, they usually cursed with a sentence: "garbage in, garbage out". this is exactly what this pathetic couple who consider themselves artists. i have to add one more sentence to nail these kind of people who call themselves artists: making junk out of junk. their whole lives are just based upon an unrealistic whim, a modern day tragic fact for so many people who consider themselves with artistic talents. this old guy could not get out of his hobbit of making ugly cardboard motor bikes, punching canvas with boxing gloves to create some meaningless color dots. he just kept punching the canvas on the wall without any thinking and creativity. his so-called art is just like a spoiled brat falls in love with color paints, industrial glue or epoxy, and cardboard, the ultimate insult to art. and this woman who creates 'cutie' cartoon is also got no talent at all. their whole lives together is just a pathetic, pointless, miserable lie and a blind belief that has been fooled them so long, just like those who believe in the unseeable 3rd parties of the world, a ridiculous religion burdened them for their whole lives. the bullie is nothing but a male shauvinist pig, while cutie, the woman with long grey hair, a typical oriental woman who never got a say in her life. the most pathetic result of their lives is that they have created nothing but a lame duck like alcoholic son, a useless, hopeless good-for-nothing drunk. this family is nothing but a joke. they are just average non-talent people fooled by their own foolishness, no wonder they have to struggle their whole lives and getting nowhere. "know thyself" is the only medicine they should take.
7 out of 51 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Art of Life
djdavig17 February 2014
A lonely trip to save their house, thankful wife with cat no mouse, ring the bell and thank the stars, so many arguments so many scars, a giant calls to whisper fame, but gives them nothing no money no gain, son appears to see the fuss, can't drive a car must take the bus, he chugs the wine no women no song, his mama frets what has gone wrong, she paints and writes their lives her muse, the canvas their altar no cross no pews, then he sees her for what she is, healer and savior of all that is his, through it all they laugh and love more, they've seen it all and know the score, fifteen rounds they pound and pound, champions of love lost then found, art as life or life as art, cutie and boxer chose the best part.
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The film deserves it's Oscar nomination in every way!
Hellmant4 February 2014
'CUTIE AND THE BOXER': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Another of this year's Oscar contenders for Best Documentary Feature is this film about two struggling Japanese artists in New York City who have been married for over 40 years. It stars Neo-Dadaist artist Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko Shinohara. The movie is a beautiful depiction of love, marriage, art and following one's dreams. It was directed and written by Zachary Heinzerling and it's his feature film debut.

The documentary tells the story of how Noriko Shinohara came to New York City (in 1969) when she was 19. She met Ushio Shinohara when he was 41 and fell in love with him. Ushio (nicknamed "Gyu-chan") was famous and well liked in the experimental New York art scene but his work almost never sold and he was very poor because of it. Noriko was also an artist (and a student) but she put her dreams aside while she married Ushio and the two had a son (named Alex) together. Ushio was also an alcoholic; this combined with the couple's lack of money made their marriage very hard for 40 long years.

The movie uses new artwork by Noriko to tell a lot of her story (drawings she's recently done in animated form). I found this part of the film to be very interesting and beautiful. The story of these two, their love for each other, hard marriage and passion for art are all things that make a documentary like this really meaningful (and I can especially relate to the struggling artist story). It's beautifully directed and Ushio and Noriko are always fascinating to watch. I found their scenes together to be very sweet and relatable and there is some very powerful drama caught on screen as well. The film deserves it's Oscar nomination in every way!

Watch our movie review show 'MOVIE TALK' at:
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The perils of working together
Martin Bradley24 February 2014
Zachary Heinzerling's wonderful documentary "Cutie and the Boxer" is about the Japanese action painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, the graphic artist Noriko and their life together in New York. Ushio was eighty when the film begins, (Noriko is 21 years younger than him), and it shows him at work today preparing for a new exhibition. His action paintings are created by his 'boxing' great daubs of paint onto large canvases, hence the name ' the boxer' while Noriko has created a young girl whom she calls Cutie and her graphic stories are brought beautifully to life in black and white animation. These and the film itself chart the course of their relationship, both personal and working, from their first meeting to the present day in a way that is highly original and really rather sad. Though it is obvious they really love each other the tensions of a working relationship keep bubbling to the surface. When Ushio heads off to Japan to try to sell some of his work Noriko almost feels happy at being left alone. The film is nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Oscars and is very fine.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
its okay
delilahcarter8514 February 2014
I am writing this review on Cutie and the boxer. This documentary was very magnificent and truth telling. I expected a little more for the ending of it. The art that they did in this movie was very inspiring. They were a very old and cute couple. It was very easy reading the captions. The filming of the documentary was very great. This documentary showed a lot of emotion and caring for each other and what they did. You could tell that they really loved each other. Some parts of this documentary wasn't all that good like the ending I really hated it because I expected a lot more. The more the documentary played I kind of got confused. the way they did their art was amazing and very beautiful.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
joihargrove1214 February 2014
I am writing this review on Cutie And The Boxer. I was surprised. I didn't understand the concept of this documentary. I kind of didn't like it. I thought it was going to be longer or more information about something but no. I mean they were a cute couple I just didn't know what the concept of it was. It wasn't like a boring type of bad it was a… unfinished type of bad. There just should have been more in my opinion. They had wonderful work and sculptures but it looked like an everyday kind of thing for an artist. All artists run into problems every now and then I didn't see what the difference between them was. It didn't show me enough about who they were I feel.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Paint Boxer
adiavega24014 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This documentary is about an old couple that shares the same passion for art. I think the purpose of this documentary is to inspire people to do what they love, and never give up on what they love and who they love. I think it was a inspirational documentary because even when he didn't get to sell anything he still never stopped making his art pieces and sculptures. It wasn't the best documentary but it was interesting to see his ways of art as well as her ways of art. I've never seen anybody do art with boxing gloves, that was the most interesting. Id recommend this documentary to anyone who likes art or sculptures. I think it would be good ideas for artists.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews