Cutie And The Boxer

Cutie And The Boxer

 

I’m not a purveyor of good taste, but I really do encourage you to watch Cutie And The Boxer if you haven’t done so yet. The documentary shares the life of Noriko and Ushio Shinohara, a married couple of over 40 years who are celebrated, but struggling, artists in New York City. Ushio is 80, and has been residing in NYC since the early 70s, while Noriko was the young, impressionable art student from Japan that he seduced and made his conquest.

The film highlights their life as a couple, while also tracks their constant challenge to survive as artists today. Noriko’s tale is the true heart of the story, as she recounts her dreams of becoming a full-fledged artist, only to have them take a backseat due to unexpectedly becoming a wife and mother. Old documentary footage featured shows Ushio to be a very volatile, irresponsible figure when he was younger – and it gets relatively sadder, as his maverick, devil-may-care artsy attitude threatened to tear away at what little they had.

Luckily, things end of a high note – despite the pitfalls, Noriko and Ushio truly belong together. He obviously NEEDS her, and the tables have turned for quite some time, as she’s more than wisened up on how to keep her brilliant, yet troubled, husband in check while fulfilling her own ambitions.

Cutie And The Boxer shows that mad, self-anointed geniuses out there never truly carry the brunt of their burden – they leave the heavy lifting to those closest around them, who sometimes have no choice but to be obligated to do so. It’s proof that you can always find strength and resilience in what you do if you love it enough – in this case, Ushio and Noriko agree that art would bind them. The obstacles they faced were a lifelong struggle – not just a momentary whinge or speed bump.

I’ve been craving to see this ever since I first saw its preview, and I’m more than glad I have. (It also boasts a strangely devilish end credit sequence.) It’s beautifully shot, and doesn’t feel like it’s cliche-filled with false nostalgia. This is a genuine love story that everyone can be inspired by.

In part, this is also a shoutout for those women who stand by their (somewhat cranktankerous) men. And it might make the men a wee bit more appreciative of their better halves (if they’re not so already).

“Love is Roar-r-r-r!”

Give it a shot.

Will The Real Dark Knight Please Stand Up?

I had the strange privilege of abusing my mediaish-ness to watch the press screening of The Dark Knight Rises yesterday morning. It’s been a year of constantly praising the lords for landing the FHM gig, and yesterday’s viewing most probably would’ve been the cherry on what’s already been a great celluloid-friendly year.

With the exception of The Avengers, but that’s another story.

The main thing on my mind after walking out was that it felt awfully convenient. Not unsatisfactory, but convenient. It tied up a lot of loose ends, gave us an epic-like sheen to the proceedings and ended on a iffy high note.

Look, to be frank, it’s simply not as good as The Dark Knight. I think a fair comparison for this would probably be Robert Rodriguez’s Mexico trilogy, and TDKR would be the spiritual cousin to Once Upon A Time In Mexico — where everything just culminates into a pot of celluloid stew, and it feels like the protagonist suddenly becomes a secondary player.

Yes, we expected it to be bigger. But I felt that it was a bit too much — as though there was too much fat to filter out from. It also felt a bit erratic, and there’s a good portion of the third act that just totally seemed unnecessary, and, to Nolan’s discredit, hokey.

What I liked? It’s got to be Gary Oldman, who’s still a bad-ass, even if he is substantially aged and mustachioed. And, uh, Anne Hathaway. She made an interesting Selina Kyle, but  to be fair, didn’t have that much to do.

But with all this said, it’s not a bad movie. It’s just that with the ghost of the second movie still freshly haunting us, TDKR feels a bit too rough around the edges. Here’s hoping that we get a super-duper Director’s Cut to look forward to.

All in all, Nolan’s closed his shift on his take on Batman in a great way, and it’ll leave you feeling good — but, shit, it could’ve been even better. The whole world is going to praise this movie, and I’ll probably be crucified amongst everyone I know for saying this, but…really, it could’ve been better.

(Why hasn’t he directed a Bond movie yet?)