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Lenny Cooke (2013)

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Professional sports is known as a true meritocracy, a field in which the cream really does rise to the top, as there's simply too much money at stake to operate in any other fashion. In ... See full summary »


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Plot undisclosed.

Directors: Ben Safdie, Joshua Safdie


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Professional sports is known as a true meritocracy, a field in which the cream really does rise to the top, as there's simply too much money at stake to operate in any other fashion. In uncommon instances, however, inefficiencies can occur and gifted players may fall through the cracks. Such is the story of Lenny Cooke. In 2001, Cooke was the number-one ranked high school basketball player in America, with future NBA greats LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony listed beneath him. Yet after declaring himself eligible for the 2002 NBA draft, Cooke, shockingly, ended up going undrafted, and became a journeyman playing in little-known leagues across the world. Today he lives in southern Virginia, a should-have-been-great who simply did not quite make it. The first documentary feature from American independent film scene fixtures Josh & Benny Safdie (Daddy Longlegs, The Pleasure of Being Robbed), LENNY COOKE explores the fascinating question of how, exactly, Cooke's seemingly assured future ... Written by Anonymous

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7 June 2016 (USA)  »

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A Worthy Story Mishandled By It's Film Makers
25 April 2013 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

It's a bit ironic that just as Lenny's basketball career was misguided by those trying to exploit him, the life story of such was utterly misguided by two sibling film makers who, most assuredly, likely promised an insightful tale of highs and lows to a man once ranked above King James himself.

The film was obviously unique in a way. One half is conspired by a different film maker entirely (pre-draft Lenny), and the other poorly conspired half is done by the sibling film makers that handle the post-2002 draft fallout into the present day. The latter half prides itself on it's truly raw look into Lenny's life - friends, family, and beyond - yet reverts back to college film class special effects such as having modern day Lenny talk to a younger Lenny about making the right decisions. This was cheap and unnecessary. It also carried on quite a bit where many viewers were checking their watches. The cinematography was quite guerrilla which is a bit headache inducing. I will say this, however - the decision to not include the injuries that plagued his late career was a strong one. It would have burdened the film with unnecessary overtones that would most certainly not have furthered it's message.

One telling piece in their post film Q&A is that they did not understand why Lenny wasn't drafted in 2002. How amazing is it that the point of their film was completely lost on them! Lenny wasn't drafted because he didn't have a love for the game. The game was always a means for Lenny, not an end: he'd play for anyone who offered him a few hundred bucks and a pair of Jordans. He didn't play to play. He wanted to be drafted by the team that paid him the most. The man played overseas and visited countries all over the world. For all intents and purposes the man lived and is still living a tremendously blessed life. Instead the film makers chose to focus on the story of a guy who could have had everything but failed, when the real story is a man who fails to realize what he does have.

It is quite a shame. I think the story of Lenny is one that should be told. It just should have been told by film makers who understand it's subject.

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