Lenny Cooke (2013)
Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 21
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 4
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Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 3
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 153
In 2001, Lenny Cooke was the most hyped high school basketball player in the country, ranked above future greats LeBron James, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. A decade later, Lenny has never played a minute in the NBA. In this quintessentially American documentary, filmmaking brothers Joshua and Benny Safdie track the unfulfilled destiny of a man for whom superstardom was only just out of reach.(c) Official Site
Dec 6, 2013 Limited
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Filmmakers Benny and Josh Safdie use real-time footage to follow this hopeful, affable young man as he becomes a bitter has-been over the course of a decade.
A compellingly unconventional, elliptical sports documentary that explores the mysterious realm of might-have-been.
Like a dismaying coming-of-age movie in which little is learned beyond the fickle chemistry between dreams and business.
It's a spirited experiment in documentary form, with the directors showing great imagination in their fusion of new and archival footage, and their portrait of Cooke, assembled largely from offhand moments, conveying a sharp dramatic sensibility.
Though the brothers have created the polar opposite of a formulaic ESPN 30-for-30 episode, they don't chart Cooke's rise-and-fall arc in a way that lets you into his story.
That the first half of the film is largely older footage (previously shot for an earlier project by Adam Shopkorn) endows it with wistfulness. No matter how merry the events, they're obviously distant fragments of a broken dream.
It's clear enough that even if his turns into a cautionary tale, his is also the story shared by many more kids than LeBron's.
Lazy, fly-on-the-wall filmmaking. The Safdie brothers have the benefit of some rare extant footage, but absolutely no idea how to shape it into an interesting narrative.
The question of why Cooke's career never materialized hangs over the movie, but is never answered. What emerges instead is a portrait of a talented teenager being readied ... for a future that doesn't arrive.
How could a top prospect drop off the map within a year? That's the cautionary tale spun by Lenny Cooke, a troubling, artfully constructed documentary.
This is quite a good sports documentary, moving and unafraid of making you work for its pleasures.
The Safdies have stood out over the last few years for continually challenging audience expectations even while seeming to adhere to conventional storytelling traditions, and that's certainly true here: You've never seen a sports movie like this before.
The brothers Safdie did a rather remarkable job at showing what went wrong in Cooke's trajectory.
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