Cutie and the Boxer Screen 13 articles

Cutie and the Boxer

2013

Cutie and the Boxer Poster
  • There's video footage of Ushio in his drunken, disgraceful prime (and a haunting shot of his son sneaking off to sit in the bathtub alone) and a sense of mutually-agreed-upon willingness to let the past be, but no strong emotions or major visual coups. The film strives to cover up five years of labor, but maybe I just can't relate to a film whose tone is modeled on Still Walking, which leaves me a little emotionally cold.

  • Intriguing as their present lives may be, without enough background to appreciate, for instance, Ushio's associations with Rauschenberg and Warhol, we can't gauge the full extent of the couple's regrets and losses.

  • Considering Cutie and the Boxer concerns itself with not one but two creators, it’s ironic that a lack of expressive flair is what makes their story so bland. First time director Zachary Heinzerling embedded himself in the colourful New York home of Japanese artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. In this fly-on-the-wall documentary, he captures their day-to-day struggles and disagreements which have been marketed as dramatic but feel like fairly run-of-the-mill domestic tiffs.

  • Questions of money and fleeting reputation balance out Heinzerling's somewhat repetitive fixation on the troubles of Noriko and Ushio's marriage, but there's more than one instance in the film where it feels like the filmmakers, if not necessarily the subjects, are stopping at the water's edge... Cutie and the Boxer is funny, moving, honest, and occasionally inspiring, but as a portrait of a talent emerging from the shadow of a more public talent, the scale of the shadow is curiously omitted.

  • Why, then, is this a feel-good movie? The end credits make for a perfect coda: in slow motion, the couple flail at each other with paint-soaked boxing gloves. They wear safety goggles and are clearly enjoying themselves. They’re a living artwork—a husband-and-wife team whose creative lives are so intertwined that you can’t tell where one splattered mess ends and the next begins. Apparently, some things in life are far better than success.

  • Cutie and the Boxer captures the Shinoharas’ devotion as well as their difficulties, Ushio’s patriarchal sense of entitlement offset (if not balanced) by his obvious affection. As with most marriages, there’s no happy ending; the happy part is that it doesn’t end.

  • The overwhelming impression is one of extreme physical—and therefore psychological—intimacy with a profoundly broken couple who have endured out of stubbornness and emotional need... Unfortunately, Cutie And The Boxer feels the need to contextualize—and possibly valorize—the Shinoharas as artists, which detracts from its portrayal of them as a couple.

  • ...Another part of Brooklyn, DUMBO, constitutes the spectacular setting of Zachary Heinzerling’s independent feature debut, Cutie and the Boxer, which may be Sundance’s best film... Heinzerling weaves the film as the intersection of two narrative lines, so intertwined within a complex history of mutual dependency that it’s often difficult to tell them apart.

  • A quietly profound study of a complex marriage between two artists... Both amusing and acutely perceptive, it's a portrait of the way in which art is born from suffering, and how that pain can lead to both beauty and, ultimately, catharsis.

  • The beautifully shot and sensitively edited documentary builds toward a heightened moment of shared triumph. Noriko is far more candid and comes across as more genuine, which can give the impression that she is Cutie and the Boxer’s hero. But the intellectual, emotional and aesthetic bout the film portrays suggests she and Ushio are pushing—rather than punching—each other.

  • “We are like two flowers in one pot,” Noriko tell us. “Sometimes we don’t get enough nutrients for both of us... Are the flowers not Noriko and Ushio themselves, but their robust, lifelong devotion to their work? Their ardor is captured sincerely by Heinzerling, and displayed honestly, and the entire film suffuses a broken radiance. How rare to observe two twenty-first century verité protagonists so devoid of ironic reflexivity, and how sweet.

  • It’s safe to say that Zachary Heinzerling’s memorable, delicate and affecting documentary “Cutie and the Boxer” was not created with the concept of mass-market “relatability” in view... Although “Cutie and the Boxer” is one of the most unsentimental and unstinting portraits of marriage ever brought to the screen, there’s considerable hopefulness and love in it, and it illustrates the adage that whatever you can survive will ultimately make you stronger.

  • A turbulent 40-year marriage, how expats navigate New York, a woman emerging as an artist and what happens when the bohemian life becomes the bohemian senior-citizen life: All of these are woven into this engrossing documentary... The friction between a couple of still-struggling artists sounds rather depressing, but in fact the film is often funny; it shows that love is present in even the couple’s harshest exchanges.

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