Combustible Celluloid
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With: Arthur Agee, William Gates, Isiah Thomas, Spike Lee
Written by: Steve James, Frederick Marx
Directed by: Steve James
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for drug content and some strong language
Running Time: 170
Date: 01/01/1994

Hoop Dreams (1994)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Slam Dunk

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Hoop Dreams is probably still remembered as a movie that found life because of championing by Siskel and Ebert on their TV show. Both critics chose it as the best movie of 1994 (over Pulp Fiction), and in 1999 Ebert chose it as the best movie of the decade (Siskel had died a year earlier). It's probably also remembered for being three hours long, and for being perhaps the best basketball movie ever made. Fans may even remember the young ballplayers Arthur Agee and William Gates, who dared to dream.

Director Steve James gives the movie enormous depth and scope, while remaining intricately focused on the two players. Eventually, their stories begin to diverge, but also become heartbreakingly universal. It almost seems like a magic trick that James was able to select Agee and Gates in particular, for such a long time investment, without knowing how their careers or lives would turn out, and still make such a compelling movie. It's a great, epic achievement.

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