Monday, March 31, 2014

Cutie and the Boxer

Ushio Shinohara is an artist whose paintings or junk sculptures have been exhibited around the world and hailed by critics, but never really were able to sell. The documentary opens showing Shinohara working on one of his boxing paintings with the vigor of a twenty year old, then going inside his cramped New York flat to celebrate his 80th birthday with his wife Noriko, a worthy comic artist in her own right. As Ushio prepares for an upcoming Guggenheim exhibit, Noriko tells the story of their anything but blissful 40 year marriage, largely with the helps of her own strips which feature the couple's eponymous alter egos. Zachary Heinzerling's Oscar nominated documentary takes the road less traveled in his look at this affable couple's lives by focusing on the struggles in both their careers and marriage, and does so with some fine photography which glimpses into their artistic process.  However, the story is so scant and in need of substance that it feels draggy even at its mere hour and twenty minute running time.