Hoop Dreams (S. James, 1994)
After being emotionally struck by James’ Stevie, I figured a film about urban youth, growing up, and basketball by the same man might be one of the best I’ve ever seen. It didn’t do for me what Stevie did, but it’s an excellent film regardless. Following two boys from the Chicago projects from the start of 9th grade as they chase their dream of playing in the NBA is a very interesting subject, especially the way James involves their families as much as he does. We learn as much, if not more, about the people around these boys as we do about them. A common denominator is that their families love them, and moments they spend together are happy and proud.
Basketball is the center subject of the film, and the way the boys’ athletic careers peak and valley in almost the exact opposite way is pretty remarkable considering James obviously chose his subjects with no way of knowing this would occur. Despite ending up at completely different types of schools and in completely different situations with their basketball coaching and resources, the two boys exchange words and a hug towards the end of their senior seasons, and it’s easy to see how much they relate to one another without having spent much time together. It’s refreshing to a movie about sports that isn’t insulting to a sports fan or a film fan. 8.75/10