Skip to main content
Original Issue

Under Review

Arthur Agee remembers well the day he first met filmmakers Steve James, Frederick Marx and Peter Gilbert on a Chicago basketball court. "It was pretty crazy." he says. "Three white guys in an all-black neighborhood, putting up their cameras and stuff." Seven years later, in 1994, it didn't seem crazy: Audiences flocked and critics bowed to Hoop Dreams, which followed Agee and fellow NBA dreamer William Gates through four years of high school. The DVD (out May 10) is packed with extras, including commentary from the filmmakers and the young men, now 32. (Gates is a pastor; Agee is a clothing designer.) Gates, whose junior year was derailed by a knee injury, says, in a heartbreaking aside, that he's shown his children only the film's first half: "I want them to see Daddy's glory days before they see Daddy's declining years." The filmmakers address the moral dilemmas they faced: Should they, for instance, have intervened when family finances forced Agee to drop out of a Catholic school whose graduates include Isiah Thomas? But the movie remains the best reason to see the DVD. Telling its story through two terrifically engaging kids, it provides intimate insights into families fighting poverty, the pressures on young athletes and the spirit of streetball. --Nancy Ramsey