Noriko was a 19-year-old Japanese art student when she came to New York in the 1960s, fell in love and married hard-drinking, rock star artist Ushio Shinohara, 41. Forty years later, this fly-on-the-wall doc takes us into the kooky couple’s cluttered New York apartment. They’re flat broke, since Ushio has spent more time on ‘rock star’ than ‘artist’. He’s now 80, and seems to be having a moment again in the art world – perhaps because he has stopped drinking due to ill health. His signature is boxing paintings (punching paint on to giant canvases with boxing gloves).
It’s a touching film and a fascinating glimpse into one of those couples you can’t quite believe are still together. After all these years, she is still the loyal student – as well as cook, cleaner and general dogsbody. ‘The average one has to support the genius,’ he says. She pours her resentment into her art, creating a disturbingly twee series called ‘Cutie and Bullie’ – portraying their relationship with half-cherub, half-porn cartoon characters. It’s uncomfortable viewing in places. But perhaps not as uncomfortable as the cat Noriko gives a bath to in the sink.