Weekend Film Recommendation: Cutie and the Boxer

This week’s movie recommendation doesn’t neatly qualify as a documentary — but then again, I struggle to call it anything else. Cutie and the Boxer, directed by Zachary Heinzerling, tells the story of the wedded Japanese avant-garde artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. The film intermittently departs from the traditional documentary format and veers toward something that more closely resembles a storyboard narrative that draws on the aesthetic found in the artists’ works. The final product moves seamlessly between biographical exposition and artistic exhibition.

For those in the know—no, I confess I’m certainly not—Ushio Shinohara rose to prominence in the late ‘60s as one of the leading figures at the vanguard of “junk art.” By applying bright, garish colors to found objects like cardboard and plastic bottles and discarded engine parts, Ushio (nicknamed “Gyu-Shan”) created enormous, colorful, and vibrant sculptures and paintings that offered commentary on traditional tropes of American beauty.

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