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Mitchell's Top 20 Films of 2013: #14 "Cutie and the Boxer"

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14. “Cutie and the Boxer” - Noriko and Ushio Shinohara - married for over 40 years - live in New York City, however, they are not your average couple.

Ushio, over 80 years-old, is an artist with an unorthodox style.

He builds wild pieces like 10-foot tall paper mache motorcycles which look like bizarre real-life cartoons.

He paints bright neon-colored squiggles and swirls on mammoth canvases which resemble nightmarish images from a skittish teenager’s dreams.

Ushio’s signature works, however, are his boxing paintings.

He straps on boxing gloves, dips them in paint and punches a giant white wall over and over again.

It’s a highly entertaining process to watch, but unfortunately, Ushio’s and Noriko’s marriage is not entertaining at all.

Their relationship mires in disfunction, neglect and passive aggressive behavior.

It did not start out that way when Noriko met Ushio in The Big Apple, but she was only 19, and he was in his 40s.

An impressionable young woman, Noriko loved the excitement and creativity Ushio brought to her life, and they were quickly married.

Over forty years later, director Zachary Heinzerling lets his camera roll in present day, and the audience sees the toll a difficult marriage can bring to two people.

Cutie and the Boxer” is a revealing film which displays the painful results of neglect and alcoholism on the silver screen.

On the other hand, working through issues and churn can also open up creativity and beauty on the other side.

Noriko does exactly that, and her efforts open up and create absolute magic of this fascinating documentary.

Follow me on Twitter: @MitchFilmCritic

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