It's been called one of the greatest documentaries ever made. It's a 170-minute-long juggernaut of a film. The fact it was snubbed by the Oscars created such a public outcry that the Academy was compelled to change the very voting process for the documentary field. And, like finding a piece of filet mignon at the local fast-food joint, Hoop Dreams is now nestled in alongside old Buffy re-runs, Simpsons clips and other offerings at Hulu.com.

Directed by Steve James, Hoop Dreams follows two young men from Chicago and their struggles and triumphs on and off the basketball court as they aspire to go from grade school promise to high school stardom and hope make it to the NBA. Shot over a period of years, Hoop Dreams has been called one of the finest documentaries of all time, and the indie-consultancy group Cinetic has made it available on-line at Hulu.com. And, of course, part of me is looking for the cloud around this silver-lined opportunity: What's Cinetic hoping to get out of this? What's Hulu hoping to prove? And if you're hoping to prove the viability of Hulu as a distribution model for documentaries, why would you pick a 14-year-old film that already has a great Criterion DVD? And finally, as much as I admire Hoop Dreams and the idea of it being available on-line, I have to wonder if anyone is going to sit in front of their computer screen for the full 171-minute running time of the film. ...