Owen Gleiberman
November 18, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

Hoop Dreams

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
171 minutes
director
Steve James
distributor
Fine Line Features
author
Frederick Marx, Steve James
genre
Sports, Documentary

We gave it an A

A documentary with more passion and suspense than most dramatic features. Filmed over five years, the film immerses us in the lives of two young African-American basketball players from inner-city Chicago, William Gates and Arthur Agee, who’ve pinned their hopes on making it to the NBA. The two are recruited by St. Joseph, the same suburban Catholic high school that produced Isiah Thomas. Filmmakers Peter Gilbert, Steve James, and Frederick Marx shot 250 hours of videotape, editing the results down to a leisurely 171-minute epic. As we follow William and Arthur through four years of high school, their fortunes ebb and flow, sometimes shifting with wrenching suddenness. Hoop Dreams is an astonishing emotional experience, but the film’s devastating upshot is that if you’re from the inner city and are living for your hoop dreams, either you’re good enough to be another Isiah or you’re plumb out of luck. A

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