Friday, June 27, 2014

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "Cutie and the Boxer" (2013)

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Movie: "Cutie and the Boxer"
Director: Zachary Heinzerling
Year: 2013
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Ushio and Noriko Shinohara are a husband and wife who reflect on their lives as aging professional artists. Ushio, in his younger years, was a fairly renowned artist and has had his works displayed in numerous museums. At the same time, Noriko was a student who became infatuated with the much older Ushio, but still had artistic aspirations of her own. Noriko begins growing tired of her art taking a back seat to Ushio and has felt that she has sacrificed her own ambitions for him. She now uses her art to tell of their struggles over their 40 year marriage. Her drawings, turned into cartoons over the course of this documentary, cover how they met and how she paid for everything early on in the relationship while he worked on his art. They also display Ushio’s battles with alcoholism, the birth of their son, and their constant struggles with money. Yet even after years of turmoil, they still love each other deeply.

What a unique documentary! Not only is this an inside look into the lives of two artists, but also a look into what it's like to be part of a long-lasting relationship. Ushio and Noriko go through the motions of life while exploring their pain, suffering, happiness, struggle, and ambition through painting and art. Though Ushio has been an accomplished artist for many years with some great recognition, the couple still struggled to pay their bills and keep their studio afloat. We come to understand Noriko's plight in dealing with an alcoholic husband and son whom she still loves dearly, as well as constantly living professionally in her husband's shadow. Her illustrations are rather fascinating and show the story of their life together, even delving into not just their emotional relationship, but their sexual one as well. These illustrations run through the movie and provide a nice break between interviews with Noriko and Ushio themselves. It's very much a human story that can touch all people, not just those who have an interest in the art world. Zachary Heinzerling took his time crafting this film and really seems to have gotten it right. He shows not only their happy times and their professional rivalry, but also captures the complacency of their long-term relationship, as well as the bitterness that they may have for each other at times. The bottom line, in the end, is that this movie manages to show what it's like to love. While "20 Feet from Stardom" was also a great documentary and deserved recognition, this one does as well. This is a film you simply shouldn't miss.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 96%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!

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