Good coverage of the tournament and games more or less covers for the lack of a wider interest
Last year I was a bit too intimidated to head across from my area in Birmingham into Aston/Nechells to attend an all-night basketball tournament so in a way I appreciated the fact that this film allowed me to get inside it without having to stay up all night and, well, stand out perhaps a little bit. I do love basketball and did play in an amateur league for four or five years but being short, white and middle-class, there is always the feeling that I'm not really that welcome (although that is probably in my head as much as from others).
Anyway on the level of seeing Midnight Madness I quite liked this film and it does do a good job of following a couple of people through the "show & prove" court (where players have to impress the scouts watching), onto the elite court and potentially onto the finals. With thousands of players whittled down to ten who get to go to Chicago to compete in a competition there representing the UK. In covering this the film is pretty cool and benefits from good direction from video director Lorraine Ffrench. The approach works well and it makes for a slick reality film that will appeal to the target audience of young ballers, however for me it did leave a gap in what I was looking for.
By focusing on a handful of players (not all of whom make it of course) we do get nuggets from their lives. Some have had missed opportunities due to pregnancy; several are young fathers and several have interesting stories behind them. Too often basketballers (particularly those who play on outdoor courts) tend to be full of arrogance and trash talk. It is a bit of a stereotype but it is sadly quite true if all you see if them playing. So I did hope that this film would partly move beyond this and explore the people as well as their skills. It offers up the potential in this by having a couple of characters in here with interesting stories behind them, whether it be those who have a right to resent their partners through to Pierre, who defies his on-court personae in his job and day-to-day life. However it doesn't really follow this aspect through and really I would have liked a lot more probing of their characters and lives even if it had meant the film would have been 90 minutes instead of 50 (a runtime it could have handled).
Despite this gap though the film is still interesting as it sticks with the players through the Midnight Madness tournament all the way to Chicago. Not as good as I would have liked but slick and engaging at a sports level and will please the target audience of young UK players.
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