Green Mind, Metal Bats 青春☆金属バット (Seishun kinzoku batto) [2006] • Japan

This is a hard film to describe except to say that it's deadpan funny, delightful and successful in it's earnest attempt to remain off-kilter. It's about two guys who are bummed out their dreams of becoming baseball stars didn't pan out, and a girl who loves baseball and baseball players. One of the guys was a pitcher, played with finely nuanced body language by Masanobu Ando, who's become a bicycle cop and hates everything except himself. He uses his position of authority to do things like get shoplifting housewives to show him the color of their underwear. The other guy is a batter (of unknown position), played by Pistol Takehara, who still wants to make it, practicing his swing a thousand times a day. He's a little numb in the noggin, having been beaned by the bicycle cop pitcher ten years ago and becomes an accomplice in love and illegal activities with a drunken, violent woman who shares his love of baseball. The show stealing woman is played way over the top by Maki Sakai, and now I'm sort of in love with her myself. I generally dislike watching actors play drunk, but with the exception of some of her stumbling, Sakai creates a believable and engaging character who's pushing forty, still hot, not so nice, but fun to have around. She had to wear prosthetics to round out her role as "the chick with a rack".

Green Mind, Metal Bats is a low-key, low budget absurd comedy with an edginess that keeps it unpredictable and unsettling. A bit part by Noriko Eguchi, as the pitcher's wife, gets this one a bonus point. Anything with Eguchi is better for it.

Director: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri
Starring: Pistol Takehara, Masanobu Ando, Maki Sakai, Noriko Eguchi

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