SPACEMAN: A BASEBALL ODYSSEY(Brett Rapkin). 75 minutes. Opens Friday (March 30) at the Bloor. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
This charming, low-key film follows Bill Lee , who pitched for the Red Sox and Expos between 1969 and 82, along the way building a reputation as an eccentric. In the days when baseball was fighting a desperate rearguard action against the 60s and that era’s fallout, Lee embraced it. Now almost 60, he’s still playing baseball here, he’s shown pitching for a team of former Red Sox players that’s going to Cuba to play ball.
There’s a bit of game footage for those who want to see old guys playing baseball, but most of it is Lee reminiscing about how much he likes Cuba (“they play baseball for all the right reasons”), along with comments from old teammates like Luis Tiant and Fred Lynn .
It’s a likeable, casual look at a cultural rebel in winter, and it’s nice to see a personality profile that isn’t overloaded with portentous cues. I tried to reimagine Spaceman as an episode of E! True Hollywood Story and couldn’t. I’m not sure why Toronto distributor FilmsWeLike feels the need to give it a theatrical release — it was created for a regional American cable sports network, and its natural environment is television.