Filmmaker Bart Freundlich on Shooting Hoops at 47

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Styles Q. and A.

Two or three times a week, for 20 years, Bart Freundlich has played basketball with a group of guys in gymnasiums around New York City, where he grew up and continues to live. Many of his fellow players would be a mystery to him outside the gym; their unifying bond is full-court five-on-five.

“We just go, we have a good time and we play the game,” Mr. Freundlich said.

A film director and screenwriter, Mr. Freundlich, 47, drew on basketball for “Wolves,” his new coming-of-age sports drama starring Michael Shannon and Carla Gugino, in theaters and on demand Friday. Some of the action takes place at the West Fourth Street Courts, known widely as the Cage, where street ball is filmed like a balletic battle.

Mr. Freundlich recently sat down at a Manhattan cafe to talk about his love of basketball, his joy in seeing his son take up the game, and the pleasures and pains associated with sports as you get older.

You have two children with your wife, Julianne Moore. With family, fatherhood and career, how have you found time to play basketball?

Well, somehow it was communicated nonverbally to my wife that this was important to me — being around men and communicating through a game. But also, so much of my work is being in my head, and I get to turn my mind off. You get to physically exhaust yourself. It feels like wringing out the sponge.

What’s it like on court with your teenage son?

My favorite thing is to play on his team because he is a special shooter, this kid, and I’m a great passer. My son plays Division I basketball for Davidson. He walked on this year as a freshman. It’s hugely gratifying for him — and for me.

Did you ever play at the Cage as a young baller?

I would go watch as a kid. I would fantasize about playing. It was very intimidating. Less because of the basketball than the talking. You didn’t play there and not talk trash. And that was not my game.

Give me your personal highlight reel.

Right after college there was a period when I could dunk it. And that gave me immediate credibility. And then there was a time earlier in my 40s where I played against this kid who was a point guard for Oklahoma. He got the competitive juices flowing in me, and I could do things that I hadn’t recognized myself doing for a long time.

Sports is humbling because older and wiser don’t usually help.

I’ve always had a really good court sense, and I’m a thinking player. But the answer is the younger player always beats you. My friend who’s my age who plays basketball is a physical therapist. He told me: “Just be careful because now you have three good jumps a night. Don’t use them up while you’re warming up.” I still think of myself as a young man. It’s always shocking when someone refers to me as, “I got the old guy,” or “I’ll pick up Pops.”