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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5-Pointer, 6 Sep 2010
By 
P. J. Potter "Phil" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hoop Dreams [DVD] (DVD)
One of the most acclaimed films of the 90's was REAL and quite possibly the front runner for the best documentary ever. The biggest snub in Oscar history, etc.
It starts out in the 1980's following two 14 year old naturals from the projects of Chicago as they're headhunted by talent scouts, lured in by schools, their offers of subsidised education and the shot at living their dream of NBA stardom.

Initially the two were uninteresting and thin, but 15 minutes in, once they get to the school stages they realize that fulfilling their dreams is going to be a mountain to climb with pressure bearing down on them from all directions; Coaches with nothing positive to say, criticism from family members, unexpected hikes in tuition fees, parents losing their jobs, families breaking up, unexpected pregnancies. The beauty of the film is that it avoid your typical Documentary pitfalls of some generic talking head in a suit popping up for 30 seconds, prattling on about a subject, only being identified by title at the bottom of the screen before never being seen again. Once the film gets going, it becomes more than just the lives of 2 people, everyone of note gets fleshed out and becomes more watchable than most actors will be in their entire careers. No reconstructions, pretty much every moment of importance is captured on film minus an impregnation here and there.

Those put off by the 3 hour run time shouldn't be, it only gets deeper deeper with each passing minute so you're never left thinking 'eh, it's dying off a bit now'. Quite easily the best documentary I've ever witnessed and I've seen some good ones (Grizzly Man, Deliver Us From Evil, Koyaanisqatsi, 102 Minutes That Changed America, the overrated Man On Wire).

Simply put Hoop Dreams is #1.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant documentary, 2 Mar 2005
This review is from: Hoop Dreams [DVD] (DVD)
The 'Hoop Dreams' is one of the best documentaries ever made, in fact it may be one of the best films ever made.
It follows the stories of two young African American men (William Gates and Arthur Agee) and their families as they attempt to realise their dreams and escape the ghetto through basketball. The documentary follows the boys through four years of High School and on to college.
It is a moving, sometimes heartbreaking film that allows you to accompany the boys on their journey and on the way provides great insight into the wider issues. In many ways Hoop Dreams is a classical documentary - the filmmakers shot hours footage and then edited it down to the three hour film. There is very little editorial, they simply show us the edited highlights of what they recorded and allow the viewers to draw their own conclusions. This approach allows the filmmakers (and us) to examine not just high-school basketball but also the wider racial and social issues.
I am not sure that it is possible to spoil the plot of a documentary but if you want it to be a surprise, read no further....
The story beings with St Joseph's - an up market high school - recruiting both boys on partial scholarships. William is an instant success - even from the brief clips it is obvious he has an amazing talent for basketball - he makes the school first team as a freshman (very uncommon) and looks to have a professional career in front of him. Arthur is a different story. He has talent but he seems to lack the maturity to utilise it and he is kicked out of school at the end of his freshman year for unpaid school fees. William, the potential star, has been found a personal sponsor who pays the rest of his tuition ensuring that he can stay in school, there is a strong implication that if Arthur had been a better player sponsorship would have been found for him as well. The school emerges with no great credit over their treatment of Arthur as over the next few years they ruthlessly pursue his family for the money, withholding his school records to make life very difficult for him at his new school. Sadly things turn sour for William as well, he gets injured and then re-injured playing when he should not. Although his physical injuries heal he is never the same player again.
Even from the start, the extent to which their families are pinning all their hopes on the two boys is terrifying and heartbreaking (we know the odds are stacked against them). They both live in a very poor and dangerous neighbourhood - with the other members of their family working at minimum wage jobs to try to keep the family afloat - basketball is their only way out, their only chance to live the American dream. William has an older brother, Curtis, who had the talent but not the temperament to make it as a basketball player; he now lives vicariously through William, simply adding to the pressure. Arthur's dad has problems with drugs and domestic violence that tear his family apart.
There can be few more tragic scenes ever filmed than the segment showing Arthur shooting hoops at the local playground while his Dad scores drugs in the background. Equally unforgettable is the scene where Arthur, just before he leaves for college, plays basketball with his Dad and the years of repressed anger explode. In many ways the most memorable moment from the whole film is the line uttered by William at the end; it seems to sum up the predicament of these boys. "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.' "
This is a fabulous film - watch it you can find it - you will not be disappointed. The only disappointment is that the DVD does not provide an update to what happened to the two boys and their families
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everybody needs to see this film, 27 Jan 2002
This review is from: Hoop Dreams [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Two of the most amazingly uplifting and sorrowful stories you are ever likely to see. These two kids faced and overcame more adversity then most of us could ever face and hope to emerge from the other side. And with the loving support of their families. It is one of my all time favourite films and the more I watch, the more engrossed I become. The more details I notice, the more submerged I find myself. The film is so honest and raw, you seem so close to the action, it feels like a privilege. Almost like you're one of the family. The filmmakers are geniuses. The boys, my heros.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loving the DVD, 16 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Hoop Dreams [DVD] (DVD)
This film is old, but i had never seen it before. I just love it, reminds me of the good old days. But it is about real people and real life and has two different stories with two different families. Besides this if you like basketball you will like this. I like how it is directed and takes you through the lives of the boys. You just want to see them do well to the end ... but im not going to spoil it. Wish there was a part two - but I think there is another documentary related to this shot many years late called real hoop dreams? not sure. However I am sure you will enjoy the trials and tribulations of making it big to the college pro's!
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5.0 out of 5 stars INSPIRATIONAL, 19 Feb 2008
This review is from: Hoop Dreams [DVD] (DVD)
<SPOILER ALERT> Hoop dreams is an inspirational touching sometimes heartbreaking documentary about two very different boys who dream of being NBA players.
It is one of the best films i have ever seen. It's a bit like 'Coach Carter' mixed with 'The pursuit of Happyness' but it's much better than both movies. It is a little long but well worth viewing on a saturday or sunday afternoon.

I would recommend this film to anyone but I think the message would be effective to teenage boys whether they play sports or not. It is a story of hope and making your dreams come true. These two boys went through so much in their lives but they never gave up on their dreams.

Both Arthur and William went through everything from injuries, personal family problems, financial troubles to the pressures of choosing the right university/college and they came out the other end stronger and more determined to make their dreams come true.

Arthur's story was heartbreaking at times. His family life changed dramatically several times in this movie. his father turned to drugs. Arthur got kicked out of High school because his family couldn't afford the school fees and his family were so poor at one point they couldnt afford to pay the light bill and they had to sit in dark. I cried for Arthur.

William seemed to have an easier journey to success although his journey was bumpy too.

I can't tell you how glad i am that i found this film in a charity shop for 99p, I would have paid more for it. I could watch it over and over again.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply, one of the best documentaries ever made., 25 July 2003
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This review is from: Hoop Dreams [DVD] (DVD)
At last this Oscar winning documentary makes it onto DVD.
Why is it trashy Adam Sandler, Tom Green etc movies get released on DVD immediately but truly brilliant and moving stories like Hoop Dreams languish for years? It never ceases to amaze me what rubbish comes out on DVD yet Scorsese's After Hours or Joe Dante's Explorer's are not - bizarre.
A wonderful story about 2 boys from a poor neighbourhood in Chicago who dream of being "like Mike". The story follows them for a few years as they start to get noticed, get picked to go to posh private schools to play basketball etc. The story packs a real punch dealing with issues of fame, money, family dysfunction, race, education etc etc. This is more rewarding than 99% of Hollywood movies put together with more tension, excitement and drama to boot.
I just hope this is the start of more documentaries being released on DVD - with Hollywood churning out cookie-cutter clone nonsense it's independent documentary makers who make the cinema worth visiting. Hopefully War Photographer and Spellbound make it onto DVD soon for starters.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hoop Dreams, 24 Nov 2003
This review is from: Hoop Dreams [DVD] (DVD)
This truly moving movie is about the epic struggle of two african american inner city chicago teens who dream of making to the NBA. Hence the title; Hoop Dreams. This documentary deals with the issues of drugs, race, edducation, exploitation and basketball. By the end of the movie, you really feel you know what it was like to live their lives, in their times, in the place they lived - the ghettos of chicago. These remarkable boys: William Gates and Arthur Agee truly lived the reality of having only one chance to make it out - basketball. Quite simply the greatest movie of all time, hands down.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like stories about real people, you'll love this!, 6 Aug 2000
By 
This review is from: Hoop Dreams [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is a fascinating movie. The running time simply flew by. The story of these boys and their dreams of basketball greatness functions perfectly as a metaphor for virtually any human endeaver. Considered by many critics one of the top two or three movies made in the 1990's. Check it out.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story, 12 Aug 2000
This review is from: Hoop Dreams [VHS] (VHS Tape)
When i watched this video i was expecting one of those boring dramas about school, but it was a realy gripping film that made me feel sorry for the one that lost out ... just a class film ...
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1 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swift!, 13 Feb 2010
By 
This review is from: Hoop Dreams [1994] [Dutch Import] (DVD)
Very prompt, good service, no problems with delivery came within specified time. Very happy with this, seeing as it was from abroad too!
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