The Review/Short Read/

Hump Day Movie: Hoop Dreams

Mid-week distraction

Mar 23, 2016

March Madness is upon us! It's like basketball Christmas, with game upon game of the finest young players facing off in an epic, month-long contest of athletic prowess. Dreams will be realized with the light swish of the ball through the net. Hopes will be cruelly dashed as the game clock hits zero. School pride will be put on the line, and as usual, my bracket will end up like the smoldering ruins of a once-great ancient city. This was Sparta, my friends. And now all I do is look at my television screen with disbelief.

One of the best parts of March Madness are the inevitable human stories that emerge throughout the tournament, as heroes lead their team to victory (shouts to Dillon Brooks and Chris Boucher, the Canadians leading the #1 seed Oregon Ducks!). The magic of this event is that we, as an audience, somehow get to know the individuals soaring through the air with a round orange ball. I'd argue that there is no better example of this type of basketball-centric story than Steve James' Hoop Dreams.

Following the lives of William Gates and Arthur Agee, this must-see documentary details their lives from grade 8 until the first year of university. More than a film about basketball, this is a film about class and race and the harsh realities of life in a big city. Hoop Dreams is also a family drama, showing the ways in which the Gates and Agee families support and nurture these boys amidst not just the immense pressure to perform athletically, but also the very real social and economical pressures presented to them as black scholarship students at a predominately white school. This is a film that Roger Ebert referred to as one of the great moviegoing experiences of his life. Watch it, and reflect on the madness that is March.