pop culture imports june 28

(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best, wackiest, and weirdest foreign-language movies and TV shows streaming right now.)

Welcome back to Pop Culture Imports, lovers of foreign movies and TV shows. It’s nearing the end of June, and hey, what better way to close out Pride Month than to feature an early Ang Lee gay comedy of manners? We’ll round out our list of recommendations with a revival of the beloved anime Cardcaptor Sakura, a documentary about a couple of tortured artists, a devastating Spanish family drama about an estranged family, and Netflix’s latest collaboration with Bollywood.

And now, let’s dive into the best foreign-language movies and shows streaming now.

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This is a wonderful movie. Cutie and the Boxer premiered at Sundance back in January, where it immediately grabbed a spot in the top tier of the festival programming. The story of painter/sculptor Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko Shinohara, also an artist, the documentary tackles the difficult complexities of navigating many years of marriage. The individual artistic ambitions of each half of the couple — which aren’t incompatible, but which are unbalanced thanks to Ushio’s self-definition as the breadwinner — add an extra layer of complication to a shared life that is already rife with struggle.

If that sounds dry, just check out the trailer below. Director Zachary Heinzerling was given intimate access to the Shinoharas, and they prove to be feisty and tender subjects. The film is built of beautiful images that never feel polished to dishonesty, and backed by a score that mirrors the alternately soft and prickly facets of each person.

Noriko’s work is brought to life with endearing animation, and she ultimately becomes the storyteller, casting her relationship with Ushio — nicknamed “Bullie” — as a saga that casts their personal and professional journey as a fairy tale. There are glimmers of all those elements in the new trailer, embedded after the break. Read More »


Briefly: Your typical outdoor summer screening series is a cavalcade of well-known hits; there’ll be a Spielberg film, a musical or comedy classic or two, maybe Gone With the Wind or Lawrence of ArabiaCinemaEast, which kicks off its 2013 program in Austin this weekend, is appealingly different. The program features films like the documentary Cutie and the Boxer, a really tremendous film that was one of the best entries at Sundance this year, and Zero Charisma, the great geek culture entry from SXSW.

Screenings are cheap ($2-5, with a loose “pay what you want” scheme) and set for Sunday nights at the lovely French Legation Museum in East Austin. All will be preceded by a short film, and many will have filmmakers in attendance for Q&A sessions. The screenings are BYOB, and Austin360 notes that “food and drink are sold on premises by The Hot Dog King, Cool Haus, Juiceland and Cornucopia.”

The schedule is at cinemaeastaustin.com, and the fest has a new Twitter account, too.

First-time feature documentary director Zachary Heinzerling makes a quietly assured debut with the tender and perceptive Cutie and the Boxer. In documenting the 40-year marriage between Japanese “action painter” Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko Shinohara, the film paints a keen vision of the ways in which the halves of a life-long couple learns to life with, and often in spite of one another. Read More »

Even though the Sundance Film Festival is over, the movie deals continue. Over the last few days of the event, several films acquired distribution assuring you’ll have a shot at seeing them soon. Many of the bigger films, including Fruitvale, Don Jon’s Addiction, The Way Way Back, and The Spectacular Now, were picked up early in the festival. You can get info about each at those links above.

Below, we’ll tell you who is handling films like Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight, the horror anthology S-VHS, Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and a few others. Read More »