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"Boxing painter" Ushio Ushio Shinohara (right) and his wife Noriko are profiled in "Cutie and the Boxer," playing in the U.S. Documentary competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy Sundance Institute
Sundance review: 'Cutie and the Boxer'
First Published Jan 25 2013 10:32 am • Last Updated Jan 25 2013 12:45 pm

"Cutie and the Boxer"

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U.S. Documentary

***1/2 (three-and-a-half stars)

Love, marriage and art intersect beautifully in Zachary Heinzerling's charming documentary. Ushio Shinohara, at age 80, is a Japanese-born artist in New York with a long reputation for his "action painting" -- abstracts he paints with paint-soaked sponges fastened to boxing gloves. His wife, Noriko, 22 years his younger, is his patient assistant and most constructive critic, but as the movie begins she's eager to restart the artistic career she set aside to be a wife and mother. Intimate archival footage catches Ushio's early career and alcoholism, while Heinzerling's camera captures the transforming relationship as Noriko starts coming into her own. The resulting portrait, of a marriage enduring through change, is funny and touching.

-- Sean P. Means

"Cutie and the Boxer" screens again: Saturday, noon, Egyptian Theatre, Park City.

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