Lenny Cooke

For their first nonfiction feature, New York-based indie filmmakers Joshua and Benny Safdie (Daddy Longlegs) tell the story of a one-time pro-basketball hopeful who lapsed into obscurity after failing to make the NBA draft in 2002. The movie communicates a sense of righteous anger about wheeling and dealing in professional sports (which one interviewee compares to the slave trade) and about American celebrity culture in general. At the same time, 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. This reminded me at times of Dusan Makavejev’s classic experimental documentary Innocence Unprotected (1968), which would make a good alternate title for the Safdies’ cautionary tale.