Quantum Hoops


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Originally uploaded by JonTsai.
The Denver Film Festival is wrapping up this weekend and I just got home from seeing a brilliantly cut documentary call ”Quantum Hoops”. If you didn’t know, CalTech actually has a basketball team and is on a 22 year conference losing streak. Yeah, that’s right, I said, TWENTY-TWO YEARS! This film is about that team.

It is a brilliant docu that will be pulling at your guts as you watch year after year of failure and near wins. Good for CalTech they have a sense of humor about their losing history. They haven’t been a winning team in near 50 years. This is a team that winning just one game is a reason to celebrate. But it’s not some down and out story, because this is a school that holds MIT as it’s intellectual rival; a school made up of some of the smartest people in the world…. And it just happens a few of them like to get their game on. It makes even a not-so-smart guy like me who sucks at hoops think could go play ball. Just not at CalTech. Maybe down the street, at the park, by myself. All the same...

Rick Greenwald scripted, directed, edited, and shot most of this film by his lonesome. I found out during the Q&A with him that he tends to specialize in editing – he’s the guy who makes those transitions between scenes in “That 70’s Show.” His editing skills are what make this film, scored to some great music. The last 15 minutes you are cringing and ahhhhing with the rest of the crowd as he walks through the near win of CalTech’s final home game, last year. You’d think you were watching Peter Berg’s ”Friday Night Lights,” (the movie, not the teen drama tv series.)

I asked Rick how CalTech was responding to the film. He said that one of the Noble Prize winning Profs at CalTech, after watching the film said it gave him such hope and inspiration to teach, that he slept peacefully because he saw that all these gifted, awkward, extraordinary genius students in his classes had a place in the real world. Go watch ”Real Genius”, that Val Kilmer cult classic, to get an idea of just how awkward CalTech kids are. That film was actually based on the school. I knew a CalTech genius that went on to do his PhD at Rice University in some kind of Math that hurts my brain to pronounce. He was quintessential nerdsville, and wookie-like in hair-mass, but one of the more tolerant loving guys I’ve known.

Once again it is nice to see good art in action that not only is created excellent, but communicates a new perspective on a redemptive reality.
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