Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A First Visit to The Cube

Finding The Cube is no easy task. Barely advertised and nestled in a mainly residential section of Stokes Croft, the entrance to this tiny cinema is not obvious for the first-time visitor. But don’t turn back until you come across the red and blue neon sign, glowing above the surrounding buildings. The venue, sunken down and its interiors completely plastered with old movie posters, is small, unlikely and charming - a real hidden gem.

The film on show, Cutie and the Boxer, was nothing short of perfection. Cutie and the Boxer is a documentary following Ushio Shinohara and his wife of 40 years, Noriko Shinohara. Originally from Japan, the Brooklyn-based couple live and work together as artists. Noriko gained fame in 1970s New York, creating his own ‘Action Paintings’: using paint-drenched boxing gloves, he slams his fists repeatedly onto the surface of the canvas from right to left - the impact leaving monumental, dripping bullet-holes behind in a couple of minutes. This is how the film opens, with Ushio – on his 80th birthday - thumping the canvas with all his strength; his wife Noriko dutifully following his movements with her camera.


The couple could not be more different – in personality and artistic style. Once an alcoholic, Ushio is bossy, heavy-handed and exuberant. His large-scale paintings scream in explosions of neon and slicks of jet black; his sculptures appear as writhing contortions of cardboard and metal, lathered in thick swabs of paint. Ushio’s pig-tail adorned wife, Noriko, is far more collected, sweet and sensible – but no less gutsy and witty. Her smaller-scale, considered ink and pen drawings take the form of a narrative, following the turbulent relationship of 'Cutie and Bullie' – a self-conscious analogy of her own marriage. Her imaginative drawings float off the page, and cleverly this film quite literally brings them to life; their imaginative intervention provides much of the back story to Ushio and Noriko’s story.

Noriko, as Ushio somewhat coldly asserts at the beginning of the film, is just ‘an assistant’ to him in the studio. However as the film develops, we grow to see that his wife is far, far more to him than this: she is the one who helps him project him work to galleries; she is the one who organizes their accounts so their electricity will not be cut off in their tiny and chaotic New York apartment; she is the one who guides him in his artistic practice.

The art of these two people does play a big part in this film – but that is definitely not to stay that a viewer with no interest in art will not gain anything from it. Cutie and the Boxer is just as much about art as it is people; difference as it is about unity. Director Zachary Heinzerling does a very good job of presenting to us these people and their lives - without ever being intrusive, but in a way that guides the film along gently and allows it to unfurl itself. He beautifully captures the moments of solitude when the couple are alone in their studio, in contrast to the hectic, noisy New York art scene they find themselves in.

Above all, Cutie and the Boxer explores the complete perfection that can result when two very different people collide; about the ways in which the truly flawed aspects of a relationship can be the very thing that makes it perfect. As Noriko aptly describes her marriage:  “We are like two flowers in one pot. Sometimes we don’t get enough nutrients for both of us. But when everything goes well… We become two beautiful flowers.”

The Cube is currently trying to raise funds to buy out their premises for themselves - and continue improving and running their cinema. It's becoming ever-important that we support independent establishments such as The Cube - and if you pay a visit to see Cutie and the Boxer, you will appreciate how much of an asset it is to Bristol. Read more here on their project, and please donate if you can!

Cutie and the Boxer is showing tomorrow (Tuesday 19th November) at 8pm at The Cube. Tickets are £5, or £4 with your student card. You need to pay £1 membership on top of the ticket price for your first visit – but once you visit six times, you can see a film for free. They don’t accept cards, so make sure you bring cash.


No comments:

Post a Comment