Cutie And The Boxer - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Cutie And The Boxer Reviews

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September 21, 2016
A great documentary, sad and happy story of an artistic couple and their 40 year marriage. Very touchingly told and presented. What I got from it is we all have to make our own bit of happiness in this otherwise bleak life and we can be no one but ourselves.
½ July 27, 2016
What a great movie and an interesting look into the lives of two artists!
May 2, 2016
Interesting story. I felt so sorry for her.
½ December 16, 2015
Shamefully jabs at the assistant-partner-relationship trope, but compensates by keeping everything else more important. Some of the music choices don't make sense.
½ September 16, 2015
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.
August 5, 2015
It's funny that the little girl "artist" is The Great Beauty basically did what Ushio has done artistically for 50 years; the problem is one's a parody of modern art, and the other is not. The subjects just didn't interest me enough to justify this doc. Sure their marriage is "kind" of interesting, but not enough for a whole doc.
June 13, 2015
A weirdly engaging look at a husband and wife who are both artists, feeding off each other for inspiration and support. The film builds and builds as we get to know these two quirky people and find out why they stay together even when they can't seem to get along most of the time. Their relationship is not unlike so many long term married couples. They find a way to make it "work".

The filmmaking is really strong, bringing emotion to the story through lingering up close looks at both Cutie and The Boxer. It's pretty fun watching this old man punch away at his canvas. You realize it's not the art itself but the process that is the art. The filming of Ushio punching the canvas is the art. And without that look into the making of the art, I'm not sure the art itself would have much meaning. I'll forever have the image of this old man in goggles punching the canvas in my mind.
June 9, 2015
Really good love story - way better than I expected
May 14, 2015
I don't normally like to watch documentaries but this one caught my attention and was easy to watch. I loved the character Ushio embodies - this little badass Japanese guy who box blasts colors onto a giant canvas. I also loved Cutie's comic illustrations - they were certainly cute and poignant. Most of all I loved the love that Cutie and Bullie have with each other - 2 flowers in the same pot.
April 22, 2015
This made made nostalgic for New York City because they filmed a lot of this in some of the neighborhoods I used to hang out in. Also the 1960s & 1970s were my formative years.
½ February 20, 2015
Beautiful filmmaking, subtle story arc.
January 5, 2015
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January 1, 2015
A quite well made documentary yet somehow a bit underwhelming in terms of the story.
December 8, 2014
It's rare to see so much honesty captured.
November 30, 2014
My favorite documentary of 2013. Fabulous in so many ways.
Super Reviewer
½ November 21, 2014
This complex portrayal follows Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, a pair of artists living in New York and trying to make a living amongst their cultural history and likeminded approach to artistic expression. Ushio's work is culturally significant, to the point where he could be featured by the Guggenheim, and has retrospectives that are already thirty years old. In comparison is the couple's present, marked by an inability to pay their rent and keep their son sober. With a history of abuse and alcoholism their past is patterned with dispute, and yet they love each other despite these troubles. Noriko's work shows their history and her pain in such vivid detail, that it's featured in a gallery. This film is complex because their art almost always seeps into their personal lives, and much of their troubles stem from feeling inadequate and depressed. This film is beyond beautiful, thanks to stunning, beatific cinematography. It's edited with extreme care, pairing together animation, found footage, and new footage of the couple, obviously in love and yet apologetic of their past. This film not only examines the artwork of a lost genius, but a love that has withstood constant controversy.
October 5, 2014
Such a beautiful and honest look into the life of two talented and interesting artists. Their relationship and personal story is much more interesting than their art and it really gets underneath the surface and becomes a much more universal tale.
September 2, 2014
What a wonderful window.
July 11, 2014
What I found most admirable about Cutie and the Boxer was the way in which it balanced its subjects. Yes, at its core, the film is about art and the main characters' love for it, but by the time you reach the credits you realize that the film is actually about this couple's beautiful relationship that seems to express itself through the art they create. Sometimes they yell, sometimes one criticize the other's work, but at the end of the day their love conquers all. It's a kind of beautiful documentary.
July 8, 2014
There is not enough development of the past nor is there enough emotion in the present to really understand the stasis the two artists now exist in. The fatal flaw is in not only relying on the audience's prior knowledge of Ushio and Noriko, or at least one of the two, but by also forgoing a third person narrator, we see the story in really no opinion. While the implication of an agitated past is there, inferred almost constantly, I was mostly underwhelmed. It isn't all bad, and for anyone who has an indication of the characters it is probably much more rewarding.
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