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Hoop Dreams [Import]

William Gates , Arthur Agee , Steve James    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
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This completely absorbing three-hour documentary follows the lives of two inner-city African American teenage basketball prodigies as they move through high school with long-shot dreams of the NBA, superstardom, and an escape from the ghetto. Taking cues from such works as Michael Apted's 35 Up, director Steve James and associates shot more than 250 hours of footage, spanning more than six years, and their completed work actually moves like an edge-of-the-seat drama, so brimming with tension, plot twists, successes, and tragedies that its length--170 minutes--is never an issue. Yet, what makes the film more impressive is how James moves his scope beyond a competitive sports drama (although the movie has plenty of terrific, nail-biting basketball footage) and addresses complex social issues, creating a scathing social commentary about class privilege and racial division. The film opens by introducing William Gates and Arthur Agee, two Chicago hopefuls, as they are being courted and recruited by various high schools to play ball, and continues until the pair are college freshmen. James allows the audience the experience of not only watching their journeys and daily routines (it's a sobering portrait of inner-city life), but also witnessing their maturation. Each takes a separate path along the way, stumbling over several obstacles (William suffers injuries, Arthur fails to meet his coach's high expectations); but James takes particular care to stress the importance and strong commitment of each character's family along the way, giving the film a essential center. The parents and siblings emerge with as much depth and complexity as the two main "characters," and turn Hoop Dreams into an unforgettable film experience. --Dave McCoy

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Still brings tears to the eyes after 10 years June 27 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
When this movie first came out 10 years ago, I remembered sitting for several minutes in the theater as the credits were rolling, collecting myself. I never cry in movie theaters. And this movie moved me to bawl like a child. To think about the ups and downs, the raw enthusiasm of the young boys when they first started chasing their hoop dreams, the rough realities that they both faced without consistent fatherhood, without steady incomes, without one advantage in their lives, still brings tears to my eyes. This was a brilliant movie that moved public discourse about the importance of steady parenting, the need for educational and employment opportunities in all corners of America, the costs associated with our obsession for celebrity athletes, and the limitations of athletics as a vehicle for moving young men from poverty to wealth. Because of the openness of the families being documented, and because the film's editors and director were able to cut to the core of human needs and desires, this film broke through cultural barriers, bridged gaps in our understanding of one another, and helped us to understand that every life has value, every person has a story to tell, and every child has the right and the power to dream. It also helps us to understand that it is not always the content of character or talent that enable these children to achieve their dreams. It is also privilege, opportunities, and the right guiding hands. And without these, dreams become melancholy memories of something that could have been, only if...
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest Feb. 25 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
In my opinion, being a big fan of the genre, Hoop Dreams stands as one of the greatest nonfiction works of film, most probably the most important movie of any genre made in the last 35 years and a serious contender for the somewhat silly "greatest movie of all time" credential, comparing favorably with such cultural fixtures as Citizen Kane. I'm not a sport fan whatsoever, I dont know anything about basketball, and my life has been about as different from the two kids in the film as possible. When I first saw this movie about ten years ago I was bracing myself for some blaxploitation movie. I have since watched it at least a half a dozen times since, and I never fail to be awed by the incredible scope and pathos of this film. On the surface, the movie is about basketball, poverty, aspiration, frailty, loss, hope, marginalization, ghetto life, and youth. When put together over the most engaging 3 hours I have ever had, the film constructs a monumental testament to the human experience. Brilliant in its themes, virtually flawless in its execution, stunningly humane in its treatment of its subjects, Hoop Dreams is big, important, and excellent. Like other true greats, its greatness is often overstated, but it's the type of movie that if you have half a brain and half a heart, you will be seized by the brilliance dripping from every pixel.
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Format:VHS Tape
This 1994 award-winning documentary is about William and Arthur, two Chicago African-American teenagers who, in the eighth grade, are recruited to play basketball for a middle-class parochial high school. Both are good at basketball but struggle with their academics. And both dream of playing for the NBA.
The film follows these two boys for a full six years. It also follows their families and we get a glimpse of the challenges of everyday life in the ghetto. These are real people, not actors, and they have to cope with a lot, including Arthur's father drug problem and the economics of living on $268 per month on welfare. Wisely, the camera is never feels intrusive, and I felt I was right there with them, watching them grow, both mentally and physically. There's a lot of struggle, with highs and lows in their personal lives as well as on the basketball courts, and it is always fascinating. The film is almost three hours long but it is so intriguing that I could have watched it for another hour.
This might not be fiction, but the individual stories are filled with drama as it deals with some very sensitive issues of class, race, maturity and hard choices. And the director, Steve James, who wrote the film along with Fredrick Marx, managed to edit it so perfectly, that I was totally unaware of anything else but just being a part of this world for the duration of the film. Highly recommended for everybody. Do see it! It's wonderful!
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3.0 out of 5 stars good, but a bit too long and narrow Feb. 2 2002
By Haseeb
Format:VHS Tape
This film follows the lives of two inner city kids who aspire to play basketball in the NBA. All of the hopes and dreams of the youngsters and their failures and succeses are monitored. From young kids to young men, the harsh realities of growing up in the inner city are also shown.
The two main things that bother me about this documentary is that it was too long and narrowly focused. Two hours would have been more than sufficient espeicially for only two people. The extra time diminished the value of the film for me. I also think the film is too narrowly focused because there are only two subjects. The director could have selected 5 or maybe 7 subjects from the different cities to give more of a perspective.
I won't spoil the film, but I must say that nothing extrodinary happens. Both subjects seem content (one of them more than the other) with their lots in life however.
For those interested in seeing an excellent documentary series which follows the lives of people very well though different stages of life, see Micheal Apted's "Up" series.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Yeah, they are Right...it's That Good !
This movie is slow, it takes time to develop as it plots its way though....Welcome to the magic of movie making ladies & Gentleman... Read more
Published 19 months ago by DvDhorder
5.0 out of 5 stars very tight Documentary
I went to see this Film at the Movies&it was very moving.it showed two Cats who were going for the Gold&leaving nothing for chance. Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2004 by mistermaxxx08
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest documentary never to be nominated for an Oscar!
When this film was released, it was a monumental achievement in documenting a person's life. Starting from when the two kids were in High School through their first year in... Read more
Published on Dec 29 2003 by smoothjazzandmore
5.0 out of 5 stars One word only: MASTERPIECE!
The best documentary ever made. More than a true story, Hoop Dreams is simply what anyone could describe as a masterpiece. Read more
Published on May 10 2003 by Laz2
5.0 out of 5 stars Long, but realistic, truthful, and good.
'Hoop Dreams' is not the most exciting documentary, but it is one of the most truthful in showing the struggle for become rich and famous. Read more
Published on April 9 2003 by Dhaval Vyas
5.0 out of 5 stars Example Of Outstanding Film
3 hours is quite a while for a documentary, but the director needed that much time to take you through the lives of two young boys from the inner city with dreams of playing in the... Read more
Published on June 8 2002 by C. Minnick
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best documentaries I have seen
What makes this documentary so compelling is the growth and maturation in each of the two main characters. Read more
Published on April 7 2002 by poi
5.0 out of 5 stars Inner City Hoops
A great story of triumph against all odds. A must see.
Published on Feb. 25 2002 by Gonzo
5.0 out of 5 stars The best documentary I've ever seen
William Gates and Arthur Agee are two talented kids, shooting for a one-in-a-million chance to make it to the NBA. They live in the poverty-stricken ghetto of Chicago. Read more
Published on April 2 2001
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