Combustible Celluloid
With: Kobe Bryant
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Spike Lee
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 84
Date: 05/16/2009

Kobe Doin' Work (2009)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Jump Shots

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For this ESPN documentary, Spike Lee was given total access to Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant during the April 13, 2008 game against the San Antonio Spurs. He films the game like a pinwheel, making use of every possible angle — and what looks to be dynamic stills shot from the sidelines — and piecing it all together in a masterclass of editing. Bryant wears a microphone during the game, and we are privy to the way he guides and encourages his team. Then, Bryant records a commentary for the game, even further letting us in on his worth ethic and his personality (although the two audio tracks are sometimes overlapping and cluttered-sounding). He seems excited watching the game, saying "I wish I were playing now!" Incidentally, the day he recorded the commentary in 2009 was the same day he scored a record 61 points against Lee's beloved Knicks. I watched this the evening of January 26, 2020, the day Bryant shockingly died at age 41 in a tragic helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people. (See also Bryan's own Oscar-winning short film Dear Basketball.) Rest in peace, Kobe.

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