Saturday, 7 December 2013


There can be a disarming openness to the most intimate documentaries, and there can be a soothing openness. Cutie and the Boxer, a film, like its subjects, so simply and softly assured in its artistry that you may be shocked to note that it's Zachary Heinzerling's first film as director, is blessed with the latter kind of openness. In its direct examination of Shinohara Noriko and Ushio's creations, it is conscious of the effect it is intended to have on the viewer, but though the presence of a filming crew may be palpable, the significance of one is not. We settle into watching everyday life and work for the Shinoharas, not in a clandestine, fly-on-the-wall manner, but in the manner of a guest in their home and workspace, observing but not interfering. Credit where it's (not so obviously) due, to Heinzerling, for installing such an environment in these private moments in private spaces that we feel neither too involved nor too detached with the lives we're both witnessing and learning about. But credit, of course, to the Shinoharas, and to the bravery they clearly don't totally appreciate they possess, and particularly to the luminous Noriko. The candour of her art reaps for the peruser much higher rewards than what was invested, and her generosity extends to the manner in which she lays her life out for Heinzerling to document, naked, brutal, enormously affecting. Both Noriko and Ushio's individual art is testament to the power of art not for the ideas nor the craft behind it, but for the sheer impact it has upon experiencing it. No wonder their exhibition is entitled 'Roar'. Heinzerling's film is, appropriately, artful in its construction, with respect for that created by the Shinoharas, perceptive cinematography and a charming soundtrack.

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