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      Hoop Dreams

      PG-13 Released Oct 14, 1994 2 hr. 50 min. Documentary List
      98% 61 Reviews Tomatometer 92% 10,000+ Ratings Audience Score Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominately white suburban school well-known for the excellence of its basketball program. Gates and Agee dream of NBA stardom, and with the support of their close-knit families, they battle the social and physical obstacles that stand in their way. This acclaimed documentary was shot over the course of five years. Read More Read Less

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      Hoop Dreams

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      Hoop Dreams

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      Critics Consensus

      One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.

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      Audience Reviews

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      Joel H Hoop Dreams is one of the first full-length documentaries that I made a decision to watch. I was, and still am amazed by how a simple slice-of-life story like this can be so compelling. Especially since I've never had dreams of playing in the NBA and my upbringing was quite different from that of William Gates and Arthur Agee. Nevertheless, it's a relatable movie. It's long, and it feels very amateurish now with its low-quality video and flat narration, but that lack of polish is also part of its charm. Hoop Dreams is a rookie with aspirations of success, just like the subjects of this documentary. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 11/17/23 Full Review Kyle M What started as a 30-minute observatory project on the Black community's cultural interaction towards basketball expanded beyond those courts into the ones adjacent to the school halls focusing on two talented students starting their careers as promising basketball players. Filmmaker Steve James, along with his friend Frederick Marx who produced and edited, met with a St. Joseph High School coach who taught former professional basketball player Isiah Thomas, then got connected with a talent scout who singled out potential subjects. The scout, "Big Earl" Smith, saw Arthur Agee, but the coach Gene Pingatore concurred it was too early to tell then talked about William Gates as the possibly next Isiah Thomas. As the buzzer rang, we see the two young athletes starting their careers on the court while dribbling their academic struggles and personal obstacles, all while hoping to get into the NBA. Its premise of a prompt compels in presenting a depth that goes beyond the sport, which sort of still relates with how it initially focused surrounding the culture's playful interaction whilst not losing the meaningful sight. However, the coverage doesn't differentiate from the genre's formula crossing inspirationally and defining the dramatic stakes through the outside struggles, as well representing cases of both physical and mental challenges. Both players dealt those differential challenges with one in the other such as William trying to prove himself after suffering a knee injury that determined his performances; and Arthur dealing with his family drama minimally from his brother who was trying to restart his dream onto his younger sibling to financial problems and problematic relationships influenced by typical negativity at the time. Commonly, they both tried to maintain their education in order to remain on the teams, as well facing downward scores from the games before eventually jumping back up. Despite the reasonably lengthy documentary's replay on the tropes rather than expectedly finding insightfully unforeseen personal depths that thoughtfully preceded the picture, it deserves its accolades and praise over its presentation. That replay rejuvenated the thought towards the formula, possibly inspiring sports films released afterwards, hence the perception through the structurally edited high school days keeping tabs on the two students balancing life between sports, education and family. While it refreshes the genre, it seems to have originated some sort of filmmaking scope considering its subject becoming a captured time capsule with maintained focus and connection. Filming initially started in 1987 up till 1992 under 250 hours of footage, later released in 1994, then another similar concept blossomed seven years later leading to Richard Linklater's 2014 masterpiece "Boyhood". (That's speculative connection). Steve James narrated his project like how one would narrate a nature documentary, voicing his attached passion while still keeping up with his original proposal of the cultural interaction with the sport through nuanced and spoken truths, alongside glimpses of the Black community's social commentary. Spike Lee, fresh off from his "Do the Right Thing", made an appearance as a speaker to one of the school assemblies detailing the systematic usage of young black athletes to bolster the facility's financing plus reputation rather than talented and gifted individualism. We also received redefined encounters that turn around the usual verbal deliveries. Hard-to-deny cynicism questions across staging, maybe directing one's own thought towards that sort of skepticism would unveil the missed moment's importance to the overall message and experience like how one would explain what occurred essentially per one's growth. Agreeable how it was unfairly snubbed by the Oscars before their thankful reform for more professional ethics, "Hoop Dreams" is an essential documentary across its associated genres that realizes the formulaically experienced thought captured in real-life. It's mainly weighted by James's original vision of his smaller project enlarged to tell the whole story of two basketball players dribbling towards greatness. Mixing that with the sports genre's discussed formula sums up the "Hoop Dreams". (B+) Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review TheFilmReviewer 1 Enthralling and engrossing, Steve James' giant 1994 documentary captures the spirit of the American dream with epic fashion. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/10/23 Full Review Drew F The best documentary of all time. A triumph on every level. It's about so much more than just sports and high school basketball. It's about life's universal ups and downs. It's the documentary version of "Boyhood" except real and made way before Boyhood. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/18/23 Full Review johnathon w Brilliant documentary that remains one of the finest ever produced, thanks to an unflinching narrative and surprising twists. The concept of covering two promising high school basketball players is intriguing and paid off with some fantastics twists. Like any the best of documentarians, they cast no judgement on the proceedings but let the facts speak for themselves, as both players navigate the school system and college prospects. Just one of the best documentaries ever and a must for any movie fan. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member This film throws an effective and touching spotlight on the lives of two African-American kids and their efforts to succeed at basketball despite their challenging socioeconomic milieu. However, watching it 27 years after its release as someone not that interested in the sport itself, I found it a bit aged in its style and a tad overlong given the film makes its point quite early into the runtime. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/11/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      Critics Reviews

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      Bill Stamets Chicago Reader Recruiters, coaches, teachers–even the boys’ fathers–could be easy targets, but the filmmakers forgo cheap shots. Rated: 3/4 Jun 7, 2022 Full Review Adam Nayman The Ringer At once a rigorous exploration of the sports-educational industrial complex and an intimate piece of portraiture... Mar 27, 2020 Full Review Kevin Maher Times (UK) The film is rich in backstage tension, from Agee's bad grades to Gates's knee injuries, while the glaring social inequality is reflected in the violent fathers and criminal friends who populate the outskirts of the tale. Rated: 5/5 Oct 28, 2019 Full Review Sheila Reid Women in the Life It’s a compelling story that gives you an in depth look at their world. May 16, 2022 Full Review John Bleasdale CineVue It's the film's humanity which is at the core of its genius. It takes its subject seriously. It never sneers or judges. It sees the context and is wise enough not to hold itself aloof. Rated: 5/5 Nov 2, 2020 Full Review Jordan M. Smith IONCINEMA.com It's still a miraculous achievement that has rarely been emulated. Rated: 5/5 Oct 28, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominately white suburban school well-known for the excellence of its basketball program. Gates and Agee dream of NBA stardom, and with the support of their close-knit families, they battle the social and physical obstacles that stand in their way. This acclaimed documentary was shot over the course of five years.
      Director
      Steve James
      Executive Producer
      Gordon Quinn, Catherine Allan
      Distributor
      Fine Line Features, New Line Home Video [us]
      Production Co
      KTCA Minneapolis, Kartemquin Films
      Rating
      PG-13
      Genre
      Documentary
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Oct 14, 1994, Wide
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Sep 30, 2016
      Box Office (Gross USA)
      $7.8M
      Sound Mix
      Stereo
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