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Green Mind, Metal Bats

Disarmingly deadpan "Green Mind, Metal Bats" is the latest from helmer Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, whose ultraviolent 1997 debut "Kichiku," and subsequent psychodramas "Hole in the Sky"(2001) and "Antenna" (2003) stoked a formative cult following.

With:
With: Pistol Takehara, Masanobu Ando, Maki Sakai, Susumu Terajima, Koji Wakamatsu.

Disarmingly deadpan “Green Mind, Metal Bats” is the latest from helmer Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, whose ultraviolent 1997 debut “Kichiku,” and subsequent psychodramas “Hole in the Sky”(2001) and “Antenna” (2003) stoked a formative cult following. Tale of working-class schmoes with improbable big-league-baseball dreams is an offbeat charmer that should lure fans of eccentric Nippon cinema in various offshore formats.

Once a promising slugger, Nanba (Pistol Takehara) got his hopes derailed 10 years earlier, when he was beaned by a pitch. Now he’s a convenience store clerk unable to attract the co-worker he likes and roped into an unstable relationship with a sexy but hopelessly alcoholic neighbor (hilariously over-the-top Maki Sakai). Add a couple bicycle cops who can’t be expected to do the right thing (one being the pitcher who turned Nanba’s fate foul), plus Koji Wakamatsu as “the Spirit of Babe Ruth,” and ingredients for a low-key yet sometimes rude comedy are ample. Comedy has several surprises up its sleeve, including a violent (yet still funny) action climax of sorts. Enjoyably restrained perfs (save Sakai), lensing and pace pull nicely against the outre scenario.

Green Mind, Metal Bats

Japan

Production: A Nippon Shupan Hanbai, Victor Entertainment and Stairway production. Produced by Fumiaki Furuya, Hiromi Aihara, Tomohiro Kobayashi, Toshiki Kimura, Rie Nishioka. Directed by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri. Screenplay, Takashi Ujita, from a comicbook by Tomohiro Koizumi.

Crew: Camera (color), Kiyoaki Hashimoto; editor, Masaharu Harimoto; music, Akainu; production designer, Shinpei Inoue. Reviewed at San Francisco Independent Film Festival, Feb. 12, 2007. Original Japanese title, Seishun kinzoku batto. Running time: 96 MIN.

With: With: Pistol Takehara, Masanobu Ando, Maki Sakai, Susumu Terajima, Koji Wakamatsu.

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