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This excellent documentary about the aspirations of high school basketball players from inner city Chicago won awards from the Sundance film festival, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the Academy Award (Oscar) for best editing. Two young men are followed during their entire high-school career, beginning with their participation in playground games and ending with their being recruited by colleges. The obstacles these young men face include parental drug addiction, family poverty, and inner city violence, as well as the usual obstacles that arise in competition, including physical injuries. While each aspires to leave the ghetto, there are many reasons to suppose they may not be able to, despite each beating the odds against them by winning college scholarships. If you have never seen Hoop Dreams you need to even if you aren't a basketball or sports fan, this was great.
Over a period of a high school career Hoop Dreams follows two young basketball players from Chicago; William Gates and Arthur Agee. While William seems to get his career started in the right place (by the same coaching and school that Isiah Thomas went to) Arthur is let go and switches to another high school with a less prestigious basketball program. The documentary gives us an in depth look of William and Arthur showing us how their lives change as they become stars. I really hope there are reunion sequels as I have felt like I was a part of their life, after learning intimate details of their hopes and aspirations as well as their sometimes very painful parent relationships.
I first heard of this movie when I read Ebert's Great Movies. I never saw it before and I had great interest for it. The movie took me a year to find, and it was well worth it. This movie explained how great a person's dream is and how easily it can disappear, overall I give it ****, this is probably one of the greatest movies I have ever seen.
One of the greatest sports movies ever and not even nominated for a
single Oscar(with the exception of Film Editing, big deal). Just a
great documentary feature made in 1994. Directed by Steve James and
edited by Frederick Marx. One of the most underrated films of all-time.
Tells the story of Arthur Agee and William Gates. Both are inner city teens who excel in basketball. It shows the struggles of their families to keep them in private schools that are expensive while keeping them conscious of their academics. They also are trying to get basketball scholarships to college. It is an accurate depiction of the exploitative world of college basketball recruiting.
Hoop Dreams is a compelling documentary about the lives of two young men with dreams of making it big in basketball in order to escape the harsh realities of life in the ghetto. Yes the boys are black. That's no surprise. There are plenty of black people living in identical surroundings of that of Arthur and William. However I can not stand to read these comments on this site, which I am assuming are written by white people, about how it is a glimpse into "African American" life and culture. How ignorant can you be? I am black and from the Chicago area and my life was nothing like this. I grew up in a five bedroom home with an accountant for a mother and a dentist for a father. My father was never addicted to crack. I never witnessed a drive by shooting. There were no teenage pregnancies in my household. That's not to say those things are something to be ashamed of. You cannot help where you were born. But for you ignorant white people who live in your sheltered little lilly white bubble, open your eyes and your minds and realize that white people aren't the only people who are diverse. Just because my skin is black doesn't mean I grew up in the projects. Black people are no more monolithic than our pasty counterparts in Caucausia. I watched the movie and was intrigued by a life I had never seen or experienced and my skin happens to be rich in melanin. It is not a reflection of African American life. It's a reflection of life in an inner city ghetto. That's it and that's that.
After reading the comments about "Hoop Dreams" I feel that I must help to set the record straight. Though a few of the reviewers saw this film correctly, the vast majority see this film as a basketball movie. It is not. This is a film about poor and impressionable children who are promised a better life by people who seek only to exploit them. Form the opening seen where the fat Artful Dodger-like recruiter is watching 14 year old boys play basketball and trying to entice them to attend the same prep-school as Isaiah Thomas, to the moment when Arthur is expelled because he cannot pay his tuition, we see how savagely exploited these poor children are. They have been reduced to work-horses by white America, promised a better life if they compete on the modern-day gladiatorial stage. These kids will never make the big show, and they will never escape the ghetto. They will perform like circus clowns until they no longer have the ability to excite us. This is modern-day slavery and apartheid on display in the USA, and some of you folks out there have the nerve to criticize these desperately poor families for accepting a welfare check. Shame on you for perpetuating such exploitation. This film is not about basketball. This film is about the continuing development of a minority underclass in this country, and the fact that we all promote it with our love for gladiators, and our Dickensian willingness to exploit children to fulfill our gluttonous desires. This is a film with heroes and villians. If you think its just a heartwarming story about kids playing basketball, then you are one of the villians.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jeremiah Goodwin Whitaker Expository Writing 10-19-15 Film Review
Film Review: Hoop Dreams
For my film review I chose the documentary "Hoop Dreams". This film goes through the struggles of two very talented African American basketball players, Arthur Agee, and William Gates. Both who were recruited by St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois. Which was a majority white school. Hall of famer, Isiah Thomas, is an alumni of the school. The film shows what their lives was like. It also shows their daily struggles.
In my opinion I believe Arthur had it the worse out of the two. After being recruited to St. Joseph and playing he was kicked out after failing to make payments on the tuition. To me I felt as if they tried so hard to get Arthur to come to the school they wouldn't just let him be kicked out like that. I feel like they would have had some kind of agreement to where he could make payments. For example and installment payment. Or somebody in the school or an organization could've done something to keep him there. Also there was a point in time he had to go back to his local school and was just getting by with his grades. He also had to do it without his father for some time. Arthur seemed to not care about school altogether at one point. He had to go to summer school multiple times just to stay in the correct grade and graduate with his class.
William gates had a better life but it was not great all the time. Like Arthur her too played for St. Joseph's. But unlike Arthur he played varsity. He seemed like he was the next sure thing to make it into the league. But no basketball player has a perfect life. At one point he struggled in his school work. He cared more about basketball than school. But eventually he got his life together and started to make the grades. Even on top of that he still excelled in basketball. Injuries began to plague him in his junior year in high school. He had a knee injury that could have cost him his whole year. But he battled back and continued to play. He messed himself up by going out to play when he was not completely healed though. During his experience at a Nike basketball camp he found himself struggling and injured his knee.
Personally I don't think this film has a specific audience. This film can be watched by anybody. From basketball lovers to people who love a good story. There isn't anything wrong with it necessarily. Some may view it as a typical story and not care about it in anyway possible. Other may see this film and think of it as an absolute masterpiece. The point is every one is entitled to their own opinion. No matter if its bias or not. We can't tell a person if they are right or wrong about anything they say or do. The audience sometimes chooses the film not the other way around.
In my opinion I think this film is a good film. Normal basketball documentaries start off while the player is in college or in their freshman year in the National Basketball Association (NBA). While with this film they start earlier in these players lives. There is a way that the story is told so that we can feel as if we are with them in their struggles and can feel the pain and suffering they are going through. Most people would look at this as a typical story of two young African American boys going through a basic struggle. But it is much more than that. This story is about two people chasing their dreams.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have seen a few of the documentary films featured in the book of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, some are standard subjects, some are controversial, and some are unusual, but of course all are interesting for their own reasons, I was hoping this one would be another good one. Basically this film follows two African American teenagers, William Gates and Arthur Agee, both from inner-city Chicago, who dream of becoming superstar basketball players for the NBA (National Basketball Association). The film starts from their early beginnings in St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, and sees them grow and progress through the following five years, including starting and graduating college, and maturing into men. William and Arthur were both recruited into the same school that Isiah Thomas came from, and put into a team where white and black people mix, which then was not usual, we see their workouts, practises and struggles through learning all about the game, and obviously their skills come into play and they do rise to become noticed. By the end of the film one of the young men grows into the star he dreamt of becoming, while the other keeps trying, but they stay true to each other and support one another through whatever happens, and their families, friends and closest supporters are with them all the way as well. With narration by Steve James, and also starring Emma Gates - William's Mother, Curtis Gates - William's Brother, Sheila Agee - Arthur's Mother, Arthur 'Bo' Agee - Arthur's Father, Earl Smith - Talent Scout, Gene Pingatore - High School Basketball Coach, Sister Marlyn Hopewell - High School Guidance Counselor, Bill Gleason - Television Reporter, Patricia Weir - President: Encyclopedia Brittanica, Marjorie Heard - High School Guidance Counselor, Luther Bedford - High School Basketball Coach, Aretha Mitchell - High School Guidance Counselor, Shannon Johnson - Arthur's Friend, Tomika Agee - Arthur's Sister, Joe 'Sweetie' Agee - Arthur's Brother, Jazz Agee - Tomika's Daughter and Arthur's Niece, Catherine Mines - William's Girlfriend, Alicia Mines - William's Daughter, Alvin Bibbs - William's Brother-in-Law, Willie Gates - Himself - William's Father and film director Spike Lee. I will be honest that I faded in and out of the story because I did think the three hour length was a bit too much, obviously the five year span of filming makes sense for this length, however I did pay attention to the actual basketball stuff, and the two true life characters are likable, so it is I suppose a worthwhile sports documentary. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Film Editing. It was number 11 on The 50 Greatest Documentaries. Good!
Hoops Dream hit it right on the nose when it comes to the subject matter it is contending with. But like many, many documentaries, recent or not, it is hard to authenticate the subject when it appears that the treatment has been doctored to the degree that the editing has the look and the feel of a feature fiction movie. For example when one of the young player is opening his mail, there's no less than 2, maybe 3, cameras to cover the event, or, more serious, only one camera and they re-shot it to order to edit a close up insert. Bertolucci once said that a fiction movie is in reality a documentary, as it records what really happened in front of the camera, and a documentary is in fact a fiction, as it is manipulated by, first, the producer's vision, then the director, followed by the cameraperson, and, last but not least, the editor. Roger and Me is another movie that comes to mind when it comes to documentary. A documentary is probably the most dangerous form of moviemaking, as it emanates the aura of genuineness and legitimacy, validating the vision (the goal, more precisely) of the filmmakers. In other words: the agenda behind the movie. Hoops is not necessarily like that, as it documents real life misfortune of the young adults whose dreams are sometimes shattered by the exploitation of real life adults maneuvering their preys for their own purposes. All the same, the manipulation of the movie technique mirrors the handling of the coaches.
It tells a sad but true story too. Academics are a more sure-fire way out of the ghetto than basketball but it doesn't get the PR. It was a bit too long but I enjoyed it.
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