An utterly remarkable film, that is about far more than just basketball. To quote another Steve James film, it is about life itself. Have a read of my full review here https://trappedinthecinemablog.wordpress.com/2016/09/25/hoop-dreams-1994-%E2%98%86%E2%98%86%E2%98%86%E2%98%86%E2%98%86/
A cultural touchstone in '94 that doesn't seem to have aged a day in its portrayal of the modern American dream and the disappointments and set backs in trying to achieve it. One realizes that despite any skill or talent the system is there to take advantage of these youths, exploit them and move on to the next batch when/if they flame out. Heartbreaking and moving at times but always poignant and thought provoking.
Amazed at how unpretentious this documentary was. Great to see both Agee and Gates as kids again at the end after watching them grow over 5 years in 3 hours. The narration and commentary added in were very well done, especially trying to get at the thoughts in everyones heads.
Amazing that this started out being shot for a 30 minute PBS special about inner city basketball players and turned into one of the best documentaries in the world. Both inspiring and sad how the hopes of entire families rest on the shoulders of children. I like what Jr. says near the end – make it or not, I won't come back and stick up a store, or become a drug dealer. What a transformation we see in him.
This documentary does so many things perfectly. Perhaps the best touch is the way in which the filmmakers positioned themselves with regard to the families. They have an uncanny knack for capturing genuine emotion. The two subjects, William and Arthur, are lovable in the special way that only children are lovable. A true gem for sports fans and documentary enthusiasts.
The scope of this documentary is stunning and you'd be hard pressed to find another American film that feels so remarkably true to life for so many people in this country. The basketball element is merely a vehicle for a much larger discussion taking place about class, education, and the evolution of dreams.
Not just about basketball, this film examines the struggles that poor inner city youth face when chasing the "American Dream". Without the prospects of basketball scholarship college is an unattainable dream for these kids. Between playing basketball, working, attending school (possibly with a 3 hour daily commute), and picking a college, the teenagers this film follows have big problems to overcomes.