For Reel

Hoop Dreams (1994)
December 11, 2016, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Steve James
5 Stars
hoop-dreamsThere are many injustices that play out over the course of the five years that make up Hoop Dreams, but wisely director Steve James does little to underline them. Should the film have been conceived of as a critique of the meat market of high school talent scouts, the scope might have limited. As it is presented, however, Hoop Dreams is a sprawling epic, engrossing not only for its uncommonly personal relationship it has with its subjects, but for how it simultaneously allows for a detached, objective perspective on the systems at play. That it concerns itself with two subjects who are marginalized and afforded empty promises makes the act of filming them occasionally troubling—for a film very much about the use and discarding of people as objects of capital, the film does little to remark on what its own relationship with the subjects is. James, however, is clearly well-intentioned in the approach, neither sentimentalizing the material nor attempting to impose any specific moral philosophy. In Hoop Dreams, each free throw carries the weight of the future of both a young man and his family. James and his editors, however, let the images play in real time, neglecting to comment on what the missed or made shots mean for the kids. With stakes this high, a missed shot is a moment of excruciating uncertainty, and James lets the immediacy of that drama speak for itself.

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