Spring is just around the bend—or so I keep telling myself while I shovel out the car—and with it comes the beauty of baseball. Now, I’m not the sort who talks about the “beautiful geometry” of the game, and I’m certainly no statistics geek. Most hardcore baseball fans would laugh me out of the park. And yet there’s something about the game—or, better, the experience of watching the game—that pulls me in every April. When suddenly there are people (paid pros and sandlot kids alike) playing outside in shirtsleeves again, it feels like a rebirth.
To help nudge the season along, Amherst Cinema is bringing back a special show this Monday night for an encore presentation. “Rare Films From the Baseball Hall of Fame” is the no-nonsense title of Dave Filipi’s presentation, but the collection he presents is no mere highlight reel. In his capacity as director of film and video at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University, Filipi worked hand in hand with the Hall of Fame to curate a program that goes beyond the game itself.
A thoughtful assemblage of footage from the golden era of baseball, it features plenty of the big hits (and hitters) of earlier eras: legends Ted Williams and Yogi Berra appear alongside the 1958 Red Sox, while groundbreaking players like Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente are featured in some remarkable footage that illuminates the challenges of the eras in which they played. To help paint a bigger picture, Filipi also includes a number of vintage television commercials that feature players from the era shilling for Gillette. In all, it’s a welcome look back at our national pastime, and an even more welcome look ahead at what the coming spring might bring.
Also at Amherst this week is Like Father, Like Son, a moving meditation on what it means to be a father. An award winner at the Cannes festival, Hirokazu Koreeda’s film is the story of a hard-working father and family man whose life is upended by a single phone call: the hospital where his son Keita was born has realized that, due to a clerical mixup six years earlier, the boy he and his wife Midori have raised is not their biological son.
What follows is a profound piece of soul-searching by Ryota. What is it, the director (himself a father) asks, that makes a man a father, and a boy his son? Is it blood, or is it time? And what happens when those two elements meet face to face? As the two fathers—Ryota’s biological son has been living with the decidedly more blue-collar Yudai—try to figure out a solution to their situation, it is Midori who proves that he understands the idea of family most of all.
Also this week: Satirical “mockumentary” A Mighty Wind comes to Pothole Pictures in Shelburne Falls for screenings on Friday and Saturday night. A razor-sharp yet compassionate spoof of the world of folk music, Christopher Guest’s (Best in Show) film centers on a one-night reunion of past legends as they come together to celebrate the memory of their famous producer. Guest’s usual gang of merrymakers—including improv geniuses Harry Shearer, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara—is on hand, with Levy in particularly fine form as Mitch Cohen, a spaced-out folkie still traumatized by his breakup with duo partner Mickey Crabbe (O’Hara). To make the whole thing a bit meta, the film will be preceded each night by live bands performing sets that include Quebecois tunes and a smattering of Celtic folk.•
Jack Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.