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Hoop Dreams [VHS]

4.8 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates, Curtis Gates, Sheila Agee
  • Directors: Steve James
  • Writers: Steve James, Frederick Marx
  • Producers: Steve James, Catherine Allan, Frederick Marx, Gordon Quinn, Peter Gilbert
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: New Line Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: August 20, 1996
  • Run Time: 170 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303413145
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,492 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Hoop Dreams

Amazon.com

This completely absorbing three-hour documentary follows the lives of two inner-city African American teenage basketball prodigies as they move through high school with long-shot dreams of the NBA, superstardom, and an escape from the ghetto. Taking cues from such works as Michael Apted's 35 Up, director Steve James and associates shot more than 250 hours of footage, spanning more than six years, and their completed work actually moves like an edge-of-the-seat drama, so brimming with tension, plot twists, successes, and tragedies that its length--170 minutes--is never an issue. Yet, what makes the film more impressive is how James moves his scope beyond a competitive sports drama (although the movie has plenty of terrific, nail-biting basketball footage) and addresses complex social issues, creating a scathing social commentary about class privilege and racial division. The film opens by introducing William Gates and Arthur Agee, two Chicago hopefuls, as they are being courted and recruited by various high schools to play ball, and continues until the pair are college freshmen. James allows the audience the experience of not only watching their journeys and daily routines (it's a sobering portrait of inner-city life), but also witnessing their maturation. Each takes a separate path along the way, stumbling over several obstacles (William suffers injuries, Arthur fails to meet his coach's high expectations); but James takes particular care to stress the importance and strong commitment of each character's family along the way, giving the film a essential center. The parents and siblings emerge with as much depth and complexity as the two main "characters," and turn Hoop Dreams into an unforgettable film experience. --Dave McCoy

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By thornhillatthemovies.com VINE VOICE on July 25, 2005
Format: DVD
As much as I love the Academy Awards, a lot of mistakes are made every year when they hand out those little coveted golden statues. No Best Director Oscar to Hitchcock? No Best Director Oscar to Scorcese for "Raging Bull" or "Goodfellas"? Both travesties. And there are a number of Best Picture Oscar Winners which are only remembered today because they won the Best Picture Oscar. Many of the films nominated the same year are still in the public consciousness because they are great, memorable, outstanding films. Some of the biggest mistakes perpetrated on the public by the Academy Awards have been in the Best Documentary category. "The Thin Blue Line", the groundbreaking documentary by Errol Morris, "Roger and Me", the wildly popular film by Michael Moore and "Hoop Dreams" were all passed up. "Hoop Dreams" was not the best documentary of 1994 but "Maya Lin" is?

Anyone who knows me knows I hate sports. I have never liked to play them or watch them. I am a sports atheist. So, my love of "Hoop Dreams" may come as a surprise to many people.

I think I am drawn to the film so much because, much like the more recent "Murderball", "Dreams" isn't about a sport so much as it is about two kids who love to play the sport. Basketball is a big factor in the lives of William Gates and Arthur Agee, two poor kids from the Chicago projects; they live, eat, dream about becoming professional basketball players, but the film covers their lives and how basketball impacts them as they grow up.

Steve James, Frederick Marx and Peter Gilbert, the filmmakers, worked on this project for eight years. Eight years! How many films have such a dedicated crew?
Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
This 1994 award-winning documentary is about William and Arthur, two Chicago African-American teenagers who, in the eighth grade, are recruited to play basketball for a middle-class parochial high school. Both are good at basketball but struggle with their academics. And both dream of playing for the NBA.
The film follows these two boys for a full six years. It also follows their families and we get a glimpse of the challenges of everyday life in the ghetto. These are real people, not actors, and they have to cope with a lot, including Arthur's father drug problem and the economics of living on $268 per month on welfare. Wisely, the camera is never feels intrusive, and I felt I was right there with them, watching them grow, both mentally and physically. There's a lot of struggle, with highs and lows in their personal lives as well as on the basketball courts, and it is always fascinating. The film is almost three hours long but it is so intriguing that I could have watched it for another hour.
This might not be fiction, but the individual stories are filled with drama as it deals with some very sensitive issues of class, race, maturity and hard choices. And the director, Steve James, who wrote the film along with Fredrick Marx, managed to edit it so perfectly, that I was totally unaware of anything else but just being a part of this world for the duration of the film. Highly recommended for everybody. Do see it! It's wonderful!
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By A Customer on February 25, 2004
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
In my opinion, being a big fan of the genre, Hoop Dreams stands as one of the greatest nonfiction works of film, most probably the most important movie of any genre made in the last 35 years and a serious contender for the somewhat silly "greatest movie of all time" credential, comparing favorably with such cultural fixtures as Citizen Kane. I'm not a sport fan whatsoever, I dont know anything about basketball, and my life has been about as different from the two kids in the film as possible. When I first saw this movie about ten years ago I was bracing myself for some blaxploitation movie. I have since watched it at least a half a dozen times since, and I never fail to be awed by the incredible scope and pathos of this film. On the surface, the movie is about basketball, poverty, aspiration, frailty, loss, hope, marginalization, ghetto life, and youth. When put together over the most engaging 3 hours I have ever had, the film constructs a monumental testament to the human experience. Brilliant in its themes, virtually flawless in its execution, stunningly humane in its treatment of its subjects, Hoop Dreams is big, important, and excellent. Like other true greats, its greatness is often overstated, but it's the type of movie that if you have half a brain and half a heart, you will be seized by the brilliance dripping from every pixel.
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Format: VHS Tape
Hoop Dreams is more than a documentary about two inner-city teens hoping to make it to the NBA, it's a brilliant, true-life tale of the American Dream told from a different context and point of view. I watched this because I saw that Roger Ebert had voted it as the best movie of the 1990's. I was skeptical at first (partly because I don't follow basketball), but when it was over I realized that it really was a great movie. Don't miss it!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Hoop Dreams is an amazing film. Not only is it the best documentary of all time but one of the greatest movies of all time.
I was amazed at how director Steve James was able to get this on film so perfectly. The story follows two inner city kids, Arthur Agee and William Gates, and their dream of making it to the NBA and out of the ghetto. The doc was filmed over five years we watch these two boys at fourteen grow to be young men and the ups and downs they go through. Viewers also get a look into the life of how kids are scouted and the harsh realities that go along with it but ultimately it's an uplifting story about overcoming your struggles and preserving.

The doc is so natural that at many points I forgot it was a documentary and I was watching a movie based on a true story. Basketball was a part of my life growing up, playing on courts all around Mass, that and a love for film I was certain I'd like Hoop Dreams. Also reading over the years the high praise it received at times once you finally see a movie it could be a let down because your expectations were so high. What I found was the film exceeded any expectations I had and was so much more then just being about basketball.

You don't watch a movie like Hoop Dreams you experience it. And it gets the best treatment dvds can get by Criterion, you can't go wrong. I give Hoop Dreams the highest possible recommendation.
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