Cutie and the Boxer is a hugely endearing documentary about two advanced-in-years Japanese artists living in New York. Ushio and Noriko Shinohara share a Brooklyn loft. She does skittish sketches and murals in the Picasso satyr style. He does après-Pollock and après-Rauschenberg modernism: splashy action paintings, giant cardboard motorbikes.
The film is both touching and funny. Ushio loves Noriko but resents her rivalry. (“The average artist should help the genius.”) She loves him but reprimands his high-speed gobbling of her gourmet dishes. Their art, we learn, has never quite hit the immortality spot, at least outside Japan. Zachary Heinzerling’s film should be a redressing consolation.