11/28/2014  
Day of the Mummy on DVD Dec 9Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special on DVD Dec 9Field Of Lost Shoes on DVD Dec 2What If on DVD & Blu-ray Nov 25Hart To Hart: Season 3 on DVD Dec 9The Simpsons: Season 17 on DVD & Blu-ray Dec 2Robin Williams Remembered - Pioneers of Television on DVD Dec 2

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Derek Hough, Julianne Hough, Maria Menounos, Mark Balla...
One Direction Score Fourth Number One Album With ÔFourÕ...
"Dancing with the Stars" season 19 crowns a winner ...
Day of the Mummy on DVD Dec 9...
Demi Lovato Talks Miley Cyrus: "I Have Nothing in Commo...

JB Joseph Burke

The Answer to American Idol's Problems Is......
CONCRETE BLONDES...
CREAM FAREWELL CONCERT...
JACK REACHER...
MANBORG...

CA Chuck Aliaga

THE ATTACK (BLU-RAY)...
THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (BLU-RAY)...
AIN'T IN IT FOR MY HEALTH: A FILM ABOUT LEVON HELM (BLU...
THE LADY (BLU-RAY)...
SWAMP THING (BLU-RAY)...

JS Jesse Shanks

2 BROKE GIRLS...
KATT WILLIAMS: KATTPACALYPSE...
NORMAN MAILER: THE AMERICAN...
DARK SHADOWS: THE GREATEST EPISODES COLLECTION - FAN FA...
JACK KEROUAC - KING OF THE BEATS...

MZ Mark Zimmer

Take Part in a Film Restoration...
STORAGE WARS: SEASON ONE...
LOST KEATON...
BLACK NARCISSUS (BLU-RAY)...
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE MOTION PICTURE TRILOGY (BLU-...

JD Jon Danziger

SUNSET BOULEVARD...
TABLOID...
CUL-DE-SAC...
3 WOMEN...
BASEBALL'S GREATEST GAMES: 1986 WORLD SERIES GAME 6...

RJ Ross Johnson

THE DEVIL'S NEEDLE AND OTHER TALES OF VICE AND REDEMPTI...
THE TROUBLE WITH TOLSTOY...
HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN TWO HOURS...
ANATOMY OF A MURDER...
BASIL DEARDEN'S LONDON UNDERGROUND (ECLIPSE SERIES 25)...

RR Rich Rosell

AFTER.LIFE...
NOTE BY NOTE: THE MAKING OF STEINWAY L1037...
VAMPIRE PARTY...
GIMME SHELTER (BLU-RAY)...
THE CREW...

JC Joel Cunningham

WINGS OF DESIRE...
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS...
MONSOON WEDDING...
PIERROT LE FOU...
SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON...

MS Matt Serafini

THE STEPFATHER...
THE HILLS RUN RED...
MANAGEMENT...
NIGHT OF DEATH...
GNAW...

DH Dan Heaton

NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS...
THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE...

DD Dale Dobson

Film-Fest 4: Sundance 2000 & Hawaii...

RM Robert Mandel

Saving Private Ryan...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

The Criterion Collection presents
Hoop Dreams (1994)

"People say, 'When you make it to the NBA, don't forget about me.' I feel like telling them, 'Well, if I don't make it, make sure you don't forget about me.'"
- William Gates

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: May 18, 2005

Stars: Arthur Agee, William Gates
Other Stars: Isiah Thomas, Bob Knight, Gene Pingatore, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Rick Pitino, Spike Lee, Dick Vitale
Director: Steve James

MPAA Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 02h:51m:32s
Release Date: May 10, 2005
UPC: 715515016025
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ A+B+B+ A

DVD Review

If you're not a sports fan, you shouldn't let the name of this movie throw you off—it's an American epic, really, with a decided emphasis on the second word in the title over the first. Documentarians Frederick Marx, Steve James and Peter Gilbert originally conceived of this piece as a small portrait to be produced for public television; time and access allowed them to turn this from a short story into a sprawling saga, a portrait of two American families on the lowest rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, looking for that classically American dream: better lives for their children, if not via the classroom, then by way of the hardwood.

Hoop Dreams follows two young African Americans, William Gates and Arthur Agee, about to enter high school, with dreams of playing in the NBA. The Gates family lives in the Cabrini Green housing project, one of the true blights of urban planning, ironically enough in the same neighborhood as the old Chicago Stadium, where Michael Jordan led his Bulls to glory; the Agees live nearby in the West Garfield neighborhood, where conditions are equally as unpromising. Both Arthur and William are certain that basketball will be their ticket out of the 'hood; the role model of choice is Isiah Thomas, who, like them, grew up in a poor Chicago neighborhood, and then went on to win a national championship at Indiana University, then to a Hall-of-Fame-caliber career with the Detroit Pistons. (Now, Thomas is dismantling my Knicks. Thanks, Zeke.) In fact, both William and Arthur are being recruited by St. Joseph's, the suburban high school that Thomas attended; they even get to play a little one-on-one with Thomas, then at the apex of his pro career, who shows up at the school for an event for prospective students. The path from the projects to a Nike endorsement deal seems like an easy one.

Of course it isn't, as we all know—there are thousands of high school and college players, playground legends and other assorted might-have-beens for every NBA superstar. The numbers are brutal, and the prospects for those who haven't prepared themselves for anything other than a career playing pro hoops is bleak. Hoop Dreams gives us extraordinarily empathic portraits of these two families, whose members are shown with a dimensionality that isn't even hinted at in most fiction films. Arthur's father, Bo, for instance, does time in jail and has a devastating drug habit; Arthur's mother, Sheila, does her best looking after her family, when there isn't enough money to pay the bills. (Perhaps the most moving moment of the film is when Sheila graduates from nursing school; we share her joy and hope that this modest success is only one in a series of many for her and her family.) William is the more highly regarded player, which brings with it more treacherous territory; especially affecting is the portrait of William's older brother, Curtis, once the family basketball prodigy himself, now pudgy, barely able to hold down a lousy job as a security guard, embittered about the bad breaks that came his way, living out his own hoop fantasies through his little brother.

The filmmakers followed these two families over a period of years, and so we come to know them, and see how time transforms them—disillusionment and cynicism come early to William and Arthur, especially in their relationship with Gene Pingatore, the coach at St. Joseph's. (The Agees cannot afford the tuition, and Arthur has to leave and go to the local public school; William has a series of knee operations, and we get the sense that Pingatore thinks of him as no more than another disposable part.) The game footage conveys the flavor of high school athletics, and it's got the messiness that comes from real life, not from Hollywood; that is, when the guys we're rooting for are on the foul line in the final seconds with the game on the line, the free throws don't always go down simply because that's what's likely to appeal to audiences at test screenings. The benefit of time provides a new appreciation for some of what's going on here—for instance, William attends a Nike summer camp in which high school players parade before college coaches, in what feels uncomfortably like a slave auction; among the other players at the camp are Fab Five members Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose.

At close to three hours, the movie may seem a little long, but the running time allows it to develop an almost novelistic texture, with fascinating subplots, recurring characters, themes and variation; we see these young men change, we want them and their families to succeed, and we come to know that the odds in some instances against them are not just long, they're insurmountable. But there are triumphs, both large and small in Hoop Dreams, as there are in all of our lives, to go along with the dashed hopes and good intentions; it's a wonderful, insightful, respectful and heartbreaking movie, and it will speak to you even if you've never harbored fantasies about accepting that trophy from David Stern in the middle of a champagne shower.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The feature was shot on video, and a decade seems like generations ago; there's been some degrading of the image quality over the years, but it looks reasonably sharp and clear on this disc.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: There's some static, but that's what you'd expect given the circumstances of the shoot; it's all reasonably clear.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 40 cues and remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Steve James, Frederick Marx, Peter Gilbert (track one); William Gates and Arthur Agee (track two)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Siskel & Ebert on the film (see below)
  2. music video
  3. accompanying booklet (see below)
  4. color bars
Extras Review: This has to be one of the strongest packages of extras on a documentary DVD I've ever seen, highlighted by two excellent commentary tracks. On the first, filmmakers Steve James, Peter Gilbert and Frederick Marx discuss the genesis of the project, and the shoestring budget on which they operated; working over a period of years, they were able to win the trust and respect of the Gates and Agee families, and they discuss using editing to suggest a point of view and hint at conclusions, rather than doing the Michael Moore thing. The two principal subjects of the film are terrific on the second commentary track, too; they're charming and affable, adding texture and detail to the experiences we see on screen. (For instance, Agee discusses the high status that came with having his own personal film crew follow him around his public high school.) Both of their families, sadly, have known tragedy in recent years—Agee's father Bo was murdered, as was Gates's brother, Curtis. (A recent New York Times article pegged to the release of this DVD related that the filmmakers set out to make a brief coda to their feature, a sort of where-are-they-now-ten-years-later; but they found the stories of these two families so compelling that they're working on a longer film, under the auspices of Criterion.)

Also on hand is a package of six pieces from Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, two of the film's biggest champions. Unsurprisingly, in the first clip, they both give the picture a big thumbs up; in the second, they each choose this as the best film of 1994, and follow that up with a Memo to the Academy, plumping for a Best Picture nod. Hoop Dreams not only didn't get one—it wasn't even nominated for Best Documentary, and in the next piece Siskel and Ebert call out the documentary branch for this snub. The Academy reformed its nominating procedures, and this is the subject of the next piece; in the final clip, Ebert is joined by Martin Scorsese for a roundup of the best films of the 1990s (Siskel had, sadly, died, much too young, in 1999), and Ebert picks Hoop Dreams as his best film of the decade.

Two original trailers get at the marketing issues for New Line, who released the movie theatrically; one is pegged to the movie's success at Sundance, the other is intended to appeal to an African American audience. You'll also find a music video for the title song, which uses many clips from the feature. The accompanying booklet is full of riches, too—John Edgar Wideman writes about the emotional impact of the film; Alexander Wolff, a Sports Illustrated writer, considers it in the context of hoops recruiting; a Washington Post piece by Michael Wise updates us on what's happened in the ten years since the original release of the movie; and the filmmakers offer a moving dedication to Bo Agee and Curtis Gates.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Hoop Dreams isn't just a great documentary; it's an extraordinary social document, a look at the big aspirations and thin hopes of those at a tremendous economic disadvantage in what should be the land of opportunity. Criterion's treatment of the film on this DVD is respectful and informative—this really is as good a movie as you're ever going to see, and I could not recommend it more enthusiastically.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

celebrity, dancewars, derek hough, julianne hough, maria menounos, mark ballas, sadie robertson, geronimo, shake it off, music, one direction, four, take me home, midnight memories, taylor swiftÕs 1989, television, dancing with the stars, alfonso ribeiro, witney carson, janel parrish, val chmerkovskiy, horror, demi lavato, miley cyrus, the tj show, heart attack, sonny with a chance, disney channel stars, sports, katy perry, superbowl, half time, comedy, drama, saturday night live, michael che, bill cosby, cameron diaz, beyonce, 7/11, american music awards, sunday, movie, hunger games: mockingjay-part 1, danny strong, christian toto, john nolte, sarah seltzer, documentary, action, foo fighters, beat the bots tour, 2015, sonic highways, fenway park in boston, wrigley field in chicago, citi field in new york, rfk stadium in washington d.c., chris pratt, guardians of the galaxy, dave chappelle, shailene woodley, ansel elgort, steve carell, michael sam, judi dench, esio trot, bbc, philomena, dustin hoffman, richard curtis, sci-fi, james bond, christoph waltz, daniel craig, ralph fiennes, ben whishaw, naomie harris, patrick schwarzenegger, adore you, arnold schwarzenegger, maria schriver, family, the big bang theory, mrs. wolowitz, carol ann susi, breast cancer, jennifer actress, plunging neckline

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

earth mosaics

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

DVD Marketplace

Snappy Planet

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store