'Kobe Doin' Work'


There have been a number of films about pro basketball, but none looks quite like "Kobe Doin' Work," Spike Lee's innovative and intense chronicle of one game in the life of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant.

Modeled after the 2006 documentary "Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait," which presented a single soccer match entirely from the perspective of the titular French player, "Kobe" puts viewers on the court alongside Bryant for most of the film, courtesy of the 30 cameras that capture his every dribble, pass and dunk as a microphone records his verbal game.

Don't go in expecting to learn anything about his home life. Lee's focus remains entirely on Bryant's day job as a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.

It helps that Lee picked an especially juicy game to film: a crucial April 2008 matchup between the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs that helped determine the regular- season conference title.

The film's stylistic conceit doesn't always mesh with the sport. Limiting the point of view to a single player can make it difficult for viewers to keep track of such basic information as which team has the ball or who just scored.

But then, Lee isn't all that concerned with the details of this particular game; he's out to capture and preserve on film the skills of a great athlete in his prime. On that level, he succeeds. (partialdiff)