Questioning what we know often leads to the truth, and realities we’d rather not confront!
Directed By: Steve James
Cutting through bullshit is a tough thing to do. I know that half the time in my line of work a lot of patients would rather feed me lines of bullshit to avoid telling me the truth of what is going on with them. It’s a sad fact, but people will go to great lengths to avoid admitting the truth. Even sadder is the fact that most people accept the lies, half-truths, and deceptions they are given without batting an eye. Even sadder are the people who bury themselves in the world of deception, shrouding themselves in a world of ignorance where the truth has no value. The fact that Steve James was able to enter such a world and create a film as illuminating as No Crossover: The Trial Of Allen Iverson is a testament to his ability to cut to the chase just as much as it is a sign of his skills as a filmmaker.
Some of the key moments in No Crossover: The Trial Of Allen Iverson involve Mr. James as a personality on camera. I’m sorry, using the word personality was wrong. There is no artifice to Mr. James’ time on camera in this film. The Chicago based director does not fashion himself another Morgan Spurlock or Michael Moore. He is a seeker of truth, and as such he knows that he is not the star of his own movie. When he is on camera, either physically or asking a question off camera in an interview, it is to question what the subjects of his film are saying. He also questions himself, and that shows how dedicated he is to getting to the bottom of what the 1993 incident involving Allen Iverson means to everyone it has effected. You won’t find Mr. James mugging for the camera or imposing some sort of loud personality on the proceedings. Instead he questions himself just as much as he does the people he interviews, the search for the truth plays no favorites after all.
I’ve referenced truth a few times in this review already. I think it’s important to note that there is a difference between absolute truth and the type of truth being sought after in No Crossover: The Trial Of Allen Iverson. There is no actual truth to be found in the question of Mr. Iverson’s guilt or innocence. The truth the film seeks is the truth of what we can find out about ourselves when we look inward. In No Crossover: The Trial Of Allen Iverson black and white doesn’t just refer to race. No, black and white is an illusion in the documentary Mr. James has helmed. The truth is a tenuous object that changes shape, density, and volume as every person in No Crossover: The Trial Of Allen Iverson speaks. Even the camera cannot provide absolute truth, so it settles for showing us people trying to convey what they think of as the truth. But, in doing so the camera shows us the greatest truth of all, just how hard the truth is to come by.
No Crossover: The Trial Of Allen Iverson doesn’t answer any questions, and it would be shame if it did. It asks tough questions and continually shows that there is no such thing as an easy answer. No Crossover: The Trial Of Allen Iverson isn’t a loud or boastful documentary. It isn’t a nebulous film that refuses to take any shape in its search for what really happened during a trial in Virginia in 1993. The documentary Steve James has directed is one that from the start cuts through the embellished world that the people around the trial of Mr. Iverson live in. The film questions, it looks inward, and it offers up only what the viewer is willing to take away from the film. There’s an ease to the filmmaking Mr. James displays in No Crossover: The Trial Of Allen Iverson that is hard to put into words. One thing that isn’t hard to put into words is that No Crossover: The Trial Of Allen Iverson is a tremendous documentary. I look forward to reexamining my opinion of Steve James, a filmmaker who I once thought very little of for personal reasons related to his most famous work, Hoop Dreams. What I once thought of as the truth concerning Mr. James may be nothing more than a shell of bullshit, and that is a truth that I’m happy to concede.