This Boy's Grim Life

In a new documentary, Hoop Dreams director Steve James revisits a youth he mentored and finds a mess

The most basic bias of "concerned" documentary films is toward the humane. Few fail to imply some measure of hope for their generally downtrodden subjects or to imagine some form of sociopolitical action that might relieve their condition. Stevie makes a few feeble gestures toward those conventions. But should you choose to endure Steve James' film, you are likely to emerge questioning not just the basic documentary premise but, possibly, such optimism as you may harbor about the whole, yes, damned human condition.

James, who directed the acclaimed Hoop Dreams in 1994, takes as his subject here a young man...

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