Hoop Dreams | Chicago Reader

Hoop Dreams

This epic, compulsively watchable 170-minute documentary (1994), about two Chicago inner-city basketball whizzes, William Gates and Arthur Agee, striving to land the right grades and scholarships to make it to the big time (and stay there), is a heady dose of the American dream and the American nightmare combined—a numbing investigation of how one point on an exam or one basket or turnover in a game can make all the difference in a family's fortunes. It's a depressing (albeit energizing) saga that often feels like a noncomic application of the worldview of Preston Sturges. Chicago filmmakers Steve James, Frederick Marx, and Peter Gilbert, with Kartemquin Films and Minnesota's KCTA TV, spent seven years tracking the lives and careers of their two principals, and there's little doubt that the presence of the camera and filmmakers becomes part of the unfolding story (a fact that the movie might have acknowledged a little more).

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