“Hoop Dreams” is a classic 1994 documentary directed by Steve James about two boys growing up in Chicago and their dream of playing professional basketball in the NBA. In pursuit of that, they attempt to move through the basketball development and recruitment pipeline. While much of the film focuses on the triumphs and letdowns of their high school basketball years we also see the ups and downs of their lives off the court.
“Straight Outta Compton” is a 2015 F. Gary Gray directed film about NWA, an iconic rap group that helped launch gangsta rap.. In some ways, Straight Outta Compton follows the path of the typical music biopic where you see the group living their lives and how they come together. We see the guys make their first forays into recording the songs that would give rise to gangsta rap. Releasing a hit song followed by a successful album brings the guys attention but shady business dealings and egos threaten to tear the group apart.
A review of “Boyz n the Hood”, John Singleton’s 1991 film debut about a boy who goes to live with his father in South Central Los Angeles. The story follows Tre and his friends as they grow up in a rough inner-city neighborhood that is plagued by violence. With the guidance and discipline instilled by his no-nonsense dad, Tre avoids many of the pitfalls that seem destined to trap his friends. The film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director Academy Awards launching Singleton’s career by making him the youngest person ever and the first Black person to be nominated for Best Director.
A review of “Baby Boy”, a 2001 John Singleton film about a trifling young man named Jody (Tyrese Gibson). He lives at home with his mom, doesn’t have stable employment, is the father of two out-of-wedlock children, and despite his life being in disarray still finds time to juggle multiple women. (It’s not depicted in the movie but he sounds like the petty type to write his name on the orange juice.) Lacking direction, Jody finds himself being pushed to grow up when a new man enters his mother’s life
A review of “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride which tells the story of Deacon Cuffy Lambkin, better known as “Sportcoat”, and the chain of events he unwittingly sets in motion when he shoots Deems Clemens, the leader of the neighborhood drug dealers. The story is primarily set in a fictional housing project, the Causeway Houses or Cause, and its surrounding neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. It features an expansive cast of characters that might initially take a bit of time to differentiate but they become richly detailed and fleshed out as the story progresses. This is an incredible book and probably one of the best fictional books that I’ve ever read.