Documentary Review Week: Hoop Dreams

Some of the most simplistic and small scale documentaries can end up addressing some of the biggest themes and feelings that we the human race have to face within our life times.
A political scandal, a sensational murder case and global cyber warfare may be big important topics, but none hit as hard and inspire more than a film about two boys shooting hoops.
Hoop Dreams follows two boys on their path through the schooling system in america and their love for basketball. William Gates and Arthur Agee go through trials and tribulations in their journey to become NBA stars and it’s their determination in the face of overwhelming odds that will inspire hope into not just the athletes who see this film, but to anyone who is working towards their dreams.

Hoop Dreams was supposed to be a 30 minute short film, however it’s easy to see why film maker Steve James went further to produce a feature length edition with it’s stand out moments like the nail biting basketball ¬†games that could make or break their future careers.
The film is split into a few separate parts over the course of a few years which in my opinion is more effective than the likes of Boyhood (just mentioning it’s name makes me shudder in disgust) in encapsulating ¬†growing up and it’s effects on life itself.

The film hits a number of different themes.
For example while William’s schooling is mostly all paid for by the school, Arthur’s family have to work tirelessly to allow his attendance to a good school which is short lived once payments stop coming in. The result gives us a stark difference in the economic ramifications in the education system in America, with William’s school being well provided, enthusiastic and effective in schooling whilst Arthur’s state school leaves much to be desired.

It’s clear that Arthur faces more obstacles and the film explores these such as the breakdown of a family, drug abuse, poverty and the temptation of a criminal life, however William’s journey is not all sunshine and rainbows either, with a coach reminiscent of J.K. Simmons from Whiplash, an extreme case of competition in the high school basketball culture and an injury that could possibly destroy his career before it’s even begun.

The main pull of this film is the capturing of these boy’s feelings and attitudes towards their dreams and how far loved ones will go to support them.

Hoop Dreams: 8/10


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