Criterion Year Week 35: Hoop Dreams

 The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Hoop Dreams

Spine Number: 289

Director: Steve James, Frederick Marx, and Peter Gilbert

Genre: Documentary

The Academy Awards has dropped the ball several times. The Searchers, widely regarded as the greatest western of all time receiving zero nominations. The Seven Samurai not being nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. Diablo Cody having more Oscars than Alfred Hitchcock. There are so many more that we actually did an entire show dedicated to Oscar's missteps. However, of all those missteps, only one was seen as egregious enough to call the entire nomination process into question.

That film was Hoop Dreams.


Check any list of the greatest documentaries of all time and you will see this film at or near the top. What was originally intended to be a 30 minute television short filmed for PBS turned into a 171 minute documentary culled from over 250 hours of footage shot over a five year period.

The story is simple. Two African American kids from poor neighborhoods in Chicago are offered the chance to play basketball for a prestigious suburban prep school. These kids, taking 90 minute train and bus rides to this new school, are offered a chance to develop as basketball players at the school that produced their idol, Isiah Thomas. From there, the story is unpredictable, because life is unpredictable.

This is a film that Roger Ebert referred to as, "one of the best films about American life I have ever seen," and "one of the great movie going experiences of my life," and went on to be named The  Greatest Documentary of All Time by the International Documentary Associations, all while, as stated above, changing the way the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences picks films for their documentary award.... It is literally impossible to overstate the importance of this film.

But Hoop Dreams is that rare film that achieves more than that. It is more than just a film. This is a personal look at a life that most of us will never know. This is a film about passion, desire, growing up, and giving every part of your being to chasing a dream. This is a movie about America. So, if you haven't seen it... first off, why the hell haven't you seen Hoop Dreams? Second, GO SEE HOOP DREAMS!


Then, come back and listen to us talk about this amazing movie and how sports are such a huge part of our lives.

Next Week:

Spine number 300: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zussou

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Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

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Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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