Jamin' Doc with Slamin' Music
Berlinale | NYC | 10/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow - Saw this at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. Great characters, the b-ball scenes were so well blended with music from Jay-Z and NAS and others. A great Doc as well as a great sports flic."
Allan Baldwin | Miami, FL | 11/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I read New York Magazine's recommendation of Gunnin' as their top pick of the 300+ flicks at TriBeCa Film Festival, I took a couple days off from work just to check it out. It turned out to be a magical trip. The audience at Tribeca talked to the screen the way any good congregation does on a Sunday morning. Neal Usatin, the film's lead editor, got a particularly good reception when his credit floated on a ball across the screen. (Makes me think I should keep my eyes on his work.) I loved it so much I went back to NYC for its theatrical premier, just down the street from the Rucker in Harlem, to see how it had been tweaked. And I'm not even a basketball fan.
This film fits the way I think. It's fast, and like good comedic timing, presents the player's stories in a way that left me wanting more -- if I'm interested, I'll look it up. The imagery goes from Redacted-style website searches, to fisheye trips over and through NYC, VHS-quality home video, to YouTube footage and HD slow-mo. It's like every photographic and film experiment ever discovered, sampled and flashed before my eyes. On that level, it's the ultimate style collage.
I bought an educational license and showed it to my high school varsity basketball team. They rolled at Bobbito's nicknames (Shampoo!) the way only those who live it know how it sounds. In fact, they loved the soundtrack so much, I'm buying a copy so they can warm-up to it.
The stand-outs in my book are the bird's-eye, fisheye tour of New York to the smooth sounds of "Let's Do it Again" (on loop). The lens makes Manhattan seem like it's half the world. I love chapter 16's fisheye tour at ground-level; especially when the beat hits on the pigeon and taxi moving in opposite directions. Chapters like this in a movie make for perfect party background pieces. I show them to my friends who don't have time to see the whole movie, but know a good visual over a beat.
You could rent it, but this is also a great example of the artistry of packaging. It's a stand-out example of graphic design gone fine art. From the paper and ink choices, to the colors and the trading cards. (Would have been cooler if they'd been actual cards. Maybe an add-on purchase soon?), this is one of those instant classics that deserves to be in any film-lover's permanent collection."
Hoopin' it up
Daniel B. Clendenin | www.journeywithjesus.net | 11/12/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This isn't an important film by any stretch of the imagination, but sports nuts and especially basketball fans will find it a fun watch. In September 2006 the top 24 high school basketball players in the country gathered in Harlem to inaugurate the first annual "Elite 24" all-star competition. The game is held at the legendary outdoor playground court in Harlem's Holcombe Rucker Park, where for sixty years many of basketball's greats lit up the score board in front of a raucous urban crowd, hecklers, urban rap music, and trash-talking announcers. This is a venue where you would never presume to give yourself a nickname; your opponents do that after you prove your mettle. The documentary focuses on eight high schoolers in particular, interviewing their families, coaches, and scouts. An interesting sub-text is how the attendant media, shoe companies, professional rankers, recruiters, and sponsors all point toward one thing -- money that results from basketball stardom. By the way, the final score was 141-139, but you'll have to watch the film to see which team won."