Dir: Steve James
Four year documentary following the high school basketball careers of two inner city Chicago boys.
A true gem, if only for the incredible fortune of the the filmmakers to have unknowingly chosen two 14 year olds to whom so many interesting, tragic, and hopeful things would later happen. And yet, nothing that happens seems particularly extraordinary either. The stories could easily stand in for scores of kids in scores of cities with minor variations.
What lingers with me is the juxtaposition of lofty dreams of the NBA with the stifling threat of failure in the inner city. When all around is poverty, violence and dependence, when the only way out seems to be basketball, even promises of riches and universities can only offer so much hope and solace, provide so much insentive to really believe. Thinking of how many NBA players went through the same obstacles has increased my respect for them.
Not the tightest narrative I have ever seen. Chracters fade into the background at times (why is it almost an hour between references to Gates's daughter?), others return in contrived ways. Out of nowhere major events like families breaking up drop that were no doubt brewing well before we found out about them. Foreshadowing would have greatly helped the story development, as would have more focus. But these are errors of ambition, trying to include too many elements of these fascinating strories, and you never yell at a player for a hustle foul.
Filmed with love and compassion. A monumental work that stretches the limits of how real life stories can be told. Any sports fan must reckon with it.