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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > Biography > Writer > Crime > The Basketball Diaries (1995/Palm Pictures Blu-ray)

The Basketball Diaries (1995/Palm Pictures Blu-ray)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C-     Film: B



Before Leonardo DiCaprio was ‘king of the world’ or shuttering on an island, he was showcasing his acting chops in the wonderfully dramatic Basketball Diaries.  The Basketball Diaries is a film based on an autobiography of the same name by the late Jim Carroll.  It is packed to the brim with an all-star cast as the likes of James Madio, Michael Imperioli, Bruno Kirby, Ernie Hudson, Mark Wahlberg, Lorraine Bracco and Juliette Lewis all make appearances.  The film is stunning from beginning to end as it pulls you down into the darkness with its gripping tale and captivating cast.


The film chronicles Jim Carroll’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) fall into the world of all consuming drug addiction.  Jim’s life consists of two things, basketball and drugs.  And with that a once promising boy is transformed into a homeless junkie, wondering what happened.  His life is plagued the darkness of a basketball coach that is sexually abusive, a friend dying of leukemia, teenage sexual frustration and a huge appetite for heroin.  As Jim starts out as a talented high school basketball star in New York City, but the darkness of the events surrounding him begins to take away everything that was good in his life, leaving him empty and cold.


The film is a must see and whereas it has gotten mixed reviews since its release this reviewer finds the film simply fascinating.  It is based on the true events of Jim Carroll’s life and leaves you simultaneously intrigued and disgusted as you see a man fall apart.  Wonderful.


The technical features on this Blu-ray release are by no means the best and leave something to be desired.  The picture is presented in a 1080p AVC encoded 1.78 X 1 widescreen that seems to have just as many issues as its previous DVD release.  The colors are weak and the blacks are far from deep.  There is a level of grain throughout that when coupled with the lack of detail leaves the image inconsistent.  I hate to say it, but the clarity and crispness of Blu-ray are just not there.  The sound is a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that brings little to the table as the surrounds are hardly ever used and mostly everything comes from the front.  The audio experience feels more like stereo than anything and outside of the few music tracks that utilize the surrounds, directionality is all but absent.


The extras include Interviews with Cast and Director, as well as a Jim Carroll interview and poetry reading.  Together the two featurettes are only slightly over 15 minutes long and offer little worthwhile content.


The content of the film definitely outweighs the content on this Blu-ray with technical features that are greatly lacking.  I don’t expect this film to be re-released anytime soon, so if you have never seen the film now is the time to act.



You can read more about the film in its earlier DVD release at this link:





-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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