WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT
Leon Gast's documentary about basketball, 1 Love, starts out as a tightly paced, entertainingly edited look at the history of the sport. For half its length, it manages to impart fascinating insight into the game, starting off by going over its Jewish New York immigrant roots and working up through the Harlem Globetrotters. We get groovy interviews with legendary street players Pee Wee Kirkland and Joe Hammond, and get distinct whiffs of the young players who hold a driving passion for the game—it radiates off them like a scent, like a hot aura, their love of basketball.
I wanted to see more of that documentary. At about the halfway point, 1 Love loses its passion. At about the point at which its focus shifts to high-school ball in Indiana, then to a brief overview of the alleged inequities of the NCAA, I found myself yawning and hoping the film would find its way back on track. Unfortunately, it never did.
There's definite magic in the film's first half, and I even learned some things. For example, I never knew the full extent of the influence of the Harlem Globetrotters on the NBA. I never knew much about how the game evolved from street ball to huge corporate cashmonger. And maybe it's in that evolution that this documentary—and, in fact, the game itself—loses its appeal for me. Once we start seeing interviews from pro players such as Kobe Bryant about shoe contracts and the merging of hip-hop culture into the game and the importance of videogames…hey, I'm asleep. And I'm dreaming about what a cool sport basketball used to be.
But the failings of the documentary are more than just its subject matter. It lacks focus toward the end, feeling rushed and without purpose. The WNBA gets a woeful 3 or 4 minutes of coverage, and the Dream Team at the Olympics gets a flyby, and it seems that we're missing a whole lot of interesting material that's between the lines. 1 Love starts off so well, it's sad to see it go out of bounds at midcourt.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Paramount presents 1 Love in a pretty good anamorphic-widescreen transfer of the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical presentation. In general, the image provides good clarity and fine detail, with accurate colors and not-bad blacks, but the quality of the video presentation actually varies from moment to moment because the source material varies wildly. This documentary is made up of vintage film clips, old video, and clumsily shot interviews, along with new footage—some of that old stuff is ugly, murky, and grainy. So a general determination of image quality is somewhat difficult. But in the end, if you forgive the source, it's a very watchable presentation, the only flaw being the presence of a fair amount of dirt and specks.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc's Dolby Digital 5.1 track is particularly impressive at the low end. The deep bass that accompanies the hip-hop music and the NBA game clips is quite explosive and tight. The surrounds get a workout with ambient noise, sound effects, music, and crowd applause and cheers. Dialog is clear but firmly rooted at the center. There's also a Dolby Surround track.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
There are no extras to be had.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
1 Love isn't a bad documentary, but it takes a turn halfway through that lost my interest. Frankly, the state of the NBA doesn't interest me, with its gigantic paychecks and huge endorsements, but the history of the game is fascinating.