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Netflix’s ‘Amateur’ and 5 Other Sports Movies Reveal the Dark Side of Pursuing Your Dreams

In a bit of pointed counterprogramming, Netflix released its latest original film “Amateur” — about a 14-year old basketball prodigy who gets recruited by a shady prep-school athletics program — in the middle of March Madness. The Ncaa has taken a lot of heat for its systemic exploitation of young college players, offering them academic scholarships but then forcing them to sideline their education in order to play ball full time, making the school millions in the process.

Based on his short film of the same name, Ryan Koo’s “Amateur” explores not only the corrupt business of athletic recruitment, but how those recruiters are targeting younger and younger players, forcing them to make difficult life-defining decisions before they’re even in high school — decisions that are often offered in bad faith. Given that the film is executive produced by current NBA superstar Tony Parker and former NBA All Star Michael Finley,
See full article at Indiewire »

“Win it All” is another strong pairing of Jake Johnson and Joe Swanberg

Joe Swanberg has had one of the more interesting career upswings of any independent filmmaker out there. After being one of the essential founders of the mumblecore indie movement, he made a right turn of sorts a few years back. Opting for bigger stars and similarly simple premises, he’s found more acclaim than ever before. Between Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas, and Digging for Fire, Swanberg is as exciting a writer/director as ever before. Most recently, Swanberg has teamed up again with frequent collaborator Jake Johnson for Win It All, a film that at once feels both different and similar than what he’s been up to lately. Above all else, it’s a great vehicle for Johnson, who does his best work when paired with Swanberg. The flick is a character study, centered on gambler Eddie Garrett (Johnson). He’s broke, but charming. A nice guy unable to resist a card game,
See full article at Hollywoodnews.com »

Interview: Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films Revisits ‘Hoop Dreams’

Chicago – It has been 22 years since one of the greatest documentaries in film history was released, and it was created right here in Chicago by Kartemquin Films. “Hoop Dreams,” produced by Gordon Quinn (among others) and directed by Steve James, was a turning point for Kartemquin, which had at the time been making socially focused docs for over 30 years. As part of the film company’s 50th anniversary, Gordon Quinn revisits the groundbreaking film.

Hoop Dreams” (1994) was the story of high schoolers William Gates and Arthur Agee, as they and their families experience the ups and downs of their path to basketball glory. Filmed as a fly-on-the-wall series of events, the documentary is a fascinating and emotional narrative on the levels of fulfillment in sports and in life. Snubbed at the Academy Awards for Best Documentary (it did get a nomination for Best Editing), the film earned a status as
See full article at HollywoodChicago.com »

Nick Fraser: ‘Documentaries transform reality, and are transformed by it’

The editor of the BBC’s Storyville and executive producer of the award-winning India’s Daughter on the richness of today’s documentary film-making

• Ten film-makers’ choices of the 50 documentaries you need to see

Documentaries have acquired a certain chic in recent years. No longer the worthy exclusive property of public television, they’re seen in cinemas and online, at festivals and at gala screenings. Nowadays the likes of Sean Penn and Leonardo DiCaprio want to be executive producers. From a perch at the BBC, I’ve watched this transformation for the past 20-odd years. I can recall shoving a cassette of Hoop Dreams into a Vcr in 1994. I’d been told that the film was nearly three hours long, and would change the way I looked at things. I balked at the length and required persuasion, but I rapidly became immersed in the basketball lives of William Gates and Arthur Agee,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

The Greatest: Hoop Dreams

When was the time you first felt that movies made from real life could be more entertaining, powerful and profound than fiction? For me it was seeing Hoop Dreams upon its release in 1994. At the time Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction were the rage, breaking new ground in Hollywood with their respective use of special effects and postmodern non-linear narrative. Compared to the four decade sweep and CGI-spangled splendor of Forrest Gump's American epic, Hoop Dreams relies on grainy video to track four years in the lives of William Gates and Arthur Agee, two high school basketball stars in pursuit of their American Dream to play in the NBA.>> - Kevin B. Lee
See full article at Fandor: Keyframe »

The Greatest: Hoop Dreams

When was the time you first felt that movies made from real life could be more entertaining, powerful and profound than fiction? For me it was seeing Hoop Dreams upon its release in 1994. At the time Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction were the rage, breaking new ground in Hollywood with their respective use of special effects and postmodern non-linear narrative. Compared to the four decade sweep and CGI-spangled splendor of Forrest Gump's American epic, Hoop Dreams relies on grainy video to track four years in the lives of William Gates and Arthur Agee, two high school basketball stars in pursuit of their American Dream to play in the NBA.>> - Kevin B. Lee
See full article at Keyframe »

Criterion Collection: Hoop Dreams | Blu-ray Review

“This is one of the best films about American life that I have ever seen”, Roger Ebert famously stated during the first of many reviews of director Steve James, cinematographer Peter Gilbert and editor Frederick Marx’s still remarkable basketball documentary, Hoop Dreams, on Siskel & Ebert over the course of the film’s 1994-95 run. Having set out to make a film on street basketball players in Chicago during the mid-80s, the fledgling filmmakers never could have conceived of the vast narrative of American life’s unpredictable twists and turns that Ebert so staunchly spoke of. Today, now over two decades old, restored by the Academy which originally snubbed it so shamefully back in 1995, it looks better than it ever has and still rings of supreme cultural relevancy within the interweavings of sport, family, education and poverty.

At its core, Hoop Dreams is essentially a parable for the American dream itself.
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

10 Criterion Documentaries You Should Buy This Month

Few things are more exciting for hardcore cinephiles than the semi-annual Barnes and Noble Criterion sale. For a few precious weeks a year, super high-quality Blu-Rays of obscure and influential classic films are on the relative cheap. Most noteworthy: they look really, Really pretty.

Most Criterion-heads are lining up to pick up A Hard Day’s Night, Red River, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and other newer (fiction) releases—as they should because they’re all awesome releases. But how about a little love for the documentary?

Maybe you don’t think docs have a ton of rewatch value, and maybe you’re right in some cases. Criterion’s A+ supplements and video quality—not to mention the timelessness of the films they choose—ought to be enough to sway you in the right direction. But if they aren’t, we’re diving a little deeper into ten of the best Criterion documentaries ever.
See full article at SoundOnSight »

Basketball Movies To Watch While You’re Waiting For The Next NBA Season

This year’s NBA Championships have just been decided – with the San Antonio Spurs beating Miami Heat and so winning the Finals for the fifth time. If you want to have a bet on which team is going to win the NBA Championships next year, the odds are already available at Betfair, where Miami Heat are current favourites, followed by the Spurs. Of course, a lot could change in the next 12 months, but that’s where Betfair can be a really useful tool for placing bets. If you take an early position and then the odds change markedly, you can always lay your bet back as it’s a betting exchange rather than a straight customer/bookmaker relationship.

As this season draws to a close, the best place to get a basketball fix during the summer is out playing on the courts yourself, or failing that, watching some great basketball movies.
See full article at The Hollywood News »

Best of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Streaming: Feel-Good Sports Movies

  • Vulture
Best of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Streaming: Feel-Good Sports Movies
This weekend, as you search for a movie to watch, you can go see Million Dollar Arm, then pick one of approximately 14 billion options available on streaming over a variety of services, be it Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, On Demand, or other sites. Every Friday, Vulture tries to make life easier by narrowing it down to a handful of heartily recommended options. This week, a modern classic documentary, one of the rare bicycle dramas, and the life story of a boxer who fought a bear.Hoop Dreams (Stream on Hulu, Netflix, rent from iTunes, Vudu, Amazon) To this day, the Academy Awards' most egregious oversight was failing to even nominate Steve James's three-hour high-school basketball film for Best Documentary (Roger Ebert's investigation of why voters unanimously turned off Hoop Dreams after 20 minutes will make you weep). James follows teenagers Arthur Agee and William Gates as they weave through the grind
See full article at Vulture »

Full Frame Announces Tribute & Thematic Program ('The Interrupters,' 'Hoop Dreams,' 'Portrait of Jason,' More)

Full Frame has announced that the festival will screen a collection of Steve James' highly regarded films over the course of the four-day event, and will welcome a variety of subjects featured in these works for Q&As. Arthur Agee, Jr. (Hoop Dreams), Ameena Matthews (The Interrupters), and Reverend Carroll Pickett (At the Death House Door) are expected to attend, along with many of James’s collaborators from Kartemquin Films. Full Frame will also feature “Hoop Dreams at 20,” a panel conversation in celebration of the landmark documentary’s 20th anniversary that will feature outtakes, insider commentary, and special guests. "I'm excited to have so many of my films...
See full article at ShadowAndAct »

2014 Sundance Film Fest Announces 20th Anniversary of Newly-Restored 'Hoop Dreams' As 'From the Collection' Screening

Sundance Institute today announced that the newly-restored, acclaimed documentary Hoop Dreams will screen in the "From the Collection" program at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, 20 years after the film made its world premiere at the 1994 Festival.  The recently completed restoration represents the collaborative effort of Sundance Institute, UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Academy Film Archive and Kartemquin Films. Filmmakers Steve James, Peter Gilbert and Frederick Marx and subject Arthur Agee are expected to participate in an extended Q&A immediately following the January 20 screening. The 2014 Festival will be January 16-26 in Park City,...
See full article at ShadowAndAct »

Hoop Dreams to screen at Sundance

  • ScreenDaily
Hoop Dreams to screen at Sundance
Festival top brass will mark the 20th anniversary of Steve James’ celebrated basketball documentary with a screening in From The Collection.

Hoop Dreams premiered in Park City in 1994 where it won the audience award for best documentary.

The film has been restored under the auspices of the Sundance Institute, UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Academy Film Archive and Kartemquin Films.

Film-makers James, Peter Gilbert and Frederick Marx and subject Arthur Agee are expected to participate in an extended Q&A following the January 20 screening.

Hoop Dreams completely changed the way we experience documentary films and the stories they tell,” said Sundance senior programmer John Nein. “And that profound impact is still being felt 20 years later.”
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Top 10 sports movies

Fighting, dying, hoping, hating … great sports films are about far more than sport itself. Here Guardian and Observer critics pick their 10 best

• Top 10 superhero movies

• Top 10 westerns

• Top 10 documentaries

• Top 10 movie adaptations

• Top 10 animated movies

• Top 10 silent movies

• More Guardian and Observer critics' top 10s

10. This Sporting Life

Lindsay Anderson brought to bear on his adaptation of David Storey's first novel, all the poetic-realist instincts he had been honing for the previous decade as a documentarian in the Humphrey Jennings mould. (Anderson had won the 1953 best doc Oscar for Thursday's Children.) Filmed partly in Halifax and Leeds, but mainly in and around Wakefield Trinity Rugby League Club, one of its incidental attractions is its record of a northern, working-class sports culture that would change out of all recognition over the next couple of decades.

The story of Frank Machin, a miner who becomes a star on the rugby field,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Streaming for Your Pleasure: Documentaries

Article by Dan Clark of Movie Revolt

Welcome to the first installment of Streaming for Your Pleasure where I highlight interesting and unique films now available on Netflix streaming. In each segment I will focus on one major overall category – this first time round I am looking at some intriguing documentaries that are worth checking out.

Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade

Directed By Lincoln Ruchti

Synopsis: At the unassuming Twin Galaxies arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa, early gamers fought for bragging rights at the 1982 Video Game World Championships. See how competitive gaming started, and meet arcade owner Walter Day, who still oversees scoring.

Why You Should Check It Out: There is just something about that arcade experience that I really miss. Today’s online gaming world is full of foul mouth preteen kids mocking you in almost every turn. Back in the day those kids were standing right next to you
See full article at Blogomatic3000 »

My favourite film: Readers' comments – week three

We're picking out your finest responses to our My favourite film series, for which Guardian writers have selected the movies they go back to time and again.

Here's a roundup of how you responded in week three, when the selections were American Splendor, The Red Shoes, The Princess Bride, Rio Bravo and Hoop Dreams

Who was Harvey Pekar? He was a grouch, a slouch, a miserablist. He griped and bitched about everything. But he did it in style. And he did it publicly, through American Splendor – a series of autobiographical comic books and the subsequent movie adaptation, which Amy Fleming chose to open the third week of our My favourite film series.

"Harvey didn't do happy," wrote Amy. "But he did funny and truth, and so does this movie – beautifully." Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman's film was a cinematic holiday from Hollywood's gloss and fantasy, she said. Trudging around,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

My favourite film: Hoop Dreams

In our writers' favourite films series, Christian Bennett explains why the story of two teenagers aiming to make it big in basketball is a slam dunk of a documentary

• Did this review miss the hoop? Score on the rebound with your own attempt – or prepare for a basketbrawl in the comments

For a 17-year-old, the prospect of legitimately missing a few hours of college and going to the cinema was always appealing. So with the blessing of our tutors, a group of us folded ourselves into my F-reg Austin Metro, cranked up Elastica on the tape deck, and made the short trip across Sheffield to attend Newcomers Day at the the Showroom cinema, home to what was then a relatively new documentary festival. The curators had scheduled two features to inspire prospective young film-makers. Despite getting into a spirited – and still unresolved – argument mid-film about the motivations of the baliff in Roger and Me,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

My favourite film: Hoop Dreams

In our writers' favourite films series, Christian Bennett explains why the story of two teenagers aiming to make it big in basketball is a slam dunk of a documentary

• Did this review miss the hoop? Score on the rebound with your own attempt – or prepare for a basketbrawl in the comments

For a 17-year-old, the prospect of legitimately missing a few hours of college and going to the cinema was always appealing. So with the blessing of our tutors, a group of us folded ourselves into my F-reg Austin Metro, cranked up Elastica on the tape deck, and made the short trip across Sheffield to attend Newcomers Day at the the Showroom cinema, home to what was then a relatively new documentary festival. The curators had scheduled two features to inspire prospective young film-makers. Despite getting into a spirited – and still unresolved – argument mid-film about the motivations of the baliff in Roger and Me,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Hoop Dreams is Current's top documentary to see before you die

Current's countdown of 50 Documentaries to See Before You Die ends tonight, and it will name Hoop Dreams as its number-one pick. The film is a 1994 documentary about two black teenagers recruited to play basketball at a suburban Chicago high school, and on the conclusion of the special tonight, Morgan Spurlock will talk to its stars, Arthur Agee and William Gates. (Spurlock's own Super Size Me is number five on the list.) The rest
See full article at Reality Blurred »

Trailer trash

The Duke's grandson Brendan gets the Wayne family back in the saddle, while comic horror Attack the Block takes on new significance in the wake of the UK riots

Wayne's world

A piece of the old west lives on in the blockbuster Cowboys & Aliens, in which a spaceship lands in an Arizona town in 1873. Manning up in the posse alongside Hollywood stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford is a certain Brendan Wayne, grandson of cowboy legend John Wayne. California-born Brendan grew up on rodeos and film sets and does all his own stunts playing Deputy Lyle in the new film, finally fulfilling a boyhood dream hatched while watching Duke on set in the original True Grit. Having decided late to study acting at university, Brendan even majored in his grandfather's movies. Now married to an actress and with three daughters, Brendan owns two horses, Out of Money and Deuces, neither
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »
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