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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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!
In movies, there are usually clear-cut "villains." In this film there are none, although some characters are astonishingly unsympathetic. Perhaps the most loathsome is Jean Pingatore, a ruthless, hard-nosed basketball coach.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
i love love love this!a true classic and very interesting true story of william gates and arthur agee trying to make it in the sport of basketball.great family viewing.Published 8 months ago by Elite01
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 morePublished on March 1 2013 by DvDhorder
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 morePublished on Jan. 18 2004 by MAXIMILLIAN MUHAMMAD
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 morePublished on Dec 29 2003 by smoothjazzandmore
The best documentary ever made. More than a true story, Hoop Dreams is simply what anyone could describe as a masterpiece. Read morePublished on May 10 2003 by Laz2
'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 morePublished on April 9 2003 by Dhaval Vyas
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 morePublished on June 8 2002 by C. Minnick
What makes this documentary so compelling is the growth and maturation in each of the two main characters. Read morePublished on April 7 2002 by poi