⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for language and brief nudity. In subtitled French, Arabic, Hebrew and English.
Theater: St. Anthony Main.
A moving drama of Mideast conflict seen through the eyes of Chloe (Evelyne Brochu), a young Canadian obstetrician whose friendships pull her between the Palestinian and Israeli camps. Chloe’s apartment house neighbor and drinking buddy, Ava (Sivan Levy), is a military checkpoint guard who does her best to pacify the war zone's angry crowds and de-escalate the tripwire violence. Her pregnant Arab patient, Rand (Sabrina Ouazani), who sifts through the garbage near her ghetto for baby toys, comes from a family passionately committed to Palestinian liberation. While she’s reminded from all sides that “this is not your war,” Chloe ultimately makes a decision with shattering consequences.
Director Anais Barbeau-Lavalette makes sweeping use of the seemingly insurmountable barrier walls and trash heaps along the borderlands. Her film rigorously adheres to a realist tone that underscores the tension of life in the West Bank. Brochu is mesmerizing as the outsider struggling to make an uneasy peace with her circumstances and the people around her. The film’s finale presents us with the uneasy question of how much good a well-intentioned interloper can do in the midst of endless suffering and epic battles.
Cutie and the Boxer
⋆⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: R for nude art images. In English and subtitled Japanese.
It’s unusual to see a documentary as emotionally full-bodied as “Cutie and the Boxer,” a visual feast that portrays one extraordinary marriage and reflects countless others. Director/photographer Zachary Heinzerling found memorable subjects in Ushio Shinohara, an 80-year-old expatriate Japanese artist living in New York City, and his 60-year-old wife, Noriko.She buzzed around the edges of the Andy Warhol scene but never made it big, and now she struggles to pay bills and make meaningful art.
Ushio’s technique is to don paint-saturated boxing gloves and bash away at a huge canvas, a spot-on metaphor for creative effort. Noriko’s work is an autobiographical account of her life with her pompous spouse, with quarreling cherubs that represent the pair of them almost dancing from her brush. She calls their marriage “two flowers in one pot,” but she’s clearly impatient to escape his artistic shadow. “She is just an assistant,” Ushio huffs. “The average one has to support the genius.”
And yet almost four decades on they abide together. Heinzerling captures candid, touching moments that illustrate the awe-inspiring power of love and acceptance. Some of the luckiest relationships are the ones where the rocks in his head fit the holes in hers. Special credit to Heinzerling for the remarkable ultra-slow-motion sequences of Ushio’s splattering murals, with paint droplets hovering like blood, sweat and tears.