Summer Of Sam

A tabloid slice of tabloid life, ragged, vivid, awkward and punchy all at once. Writer-producer-director Spike Lee's hopped-up, sexed-up reimagining of the long hot summer of 1977, when dirty, un-tourist-friendly NYC sweltered in the shadow of the .44 caliber killer, is an unexpected companion piece to DO THE RIGHT THING. They're kinetic swirls of insular...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A tabloid slice of tabloid life, ragged, vivid, awkward and punchy all at once. Writer-producer-director Spike Lee's hopped-up, sexed-up reimagining of the long hot summer of 1977, when dirty, un-tourist-friendly NYC sweltered in the shadow of the

.44 caliber killer, is an unexpected companion piece to DO THE RIGHT THING. They're kinetic swirls of insular New York neighborhood life, laced with mob mentality, heat waves, fast girls and macho guys, street dynamics, intergenerational strife and childhood loyalties shredded on the teeth of

adult life's endless conflict and compromise. What it's not really about is lumbering psycho "Son of Sam" (Michael Badalucco), the bogeyman who stalks spooning couples and rants his way into every character's consciousness. The story turns on Vinny (John Leguizamo), a newlywed hairdresser who's

cheating with every girl in the neighborhood while keeping starry-eyed bride Dionna (Mira Sorvino) perched unhappily on a pedestal at home. Meanwhile Vinny's long-absent buddy Richie (Adrien Brody) comes home sporting punk duds and attitude, at the same time a self-appointed neighborhood

protection squad take it upon themselves to hunt down Son of Sam. For their money, anyone with hair as freaky as Richie's is a likely candidate. Lee isn't a subtle filmmaker: "Why just let a group of local lowlifes hang around shooting the breeze when you can cluster them in front of a "Dead End"

sign?" seems to be his motto. And he's sometimes astonishingly clumsy: Almost every sex scene — there are many — goes on long enough for its emotional grip to dissolve into clinical detachment. But Lee also taps into some powerful energy: The lifestyle chasm between disco flash and punk

sleaze, the hellbound hedonism of Plato's Retreat, the blind fury unleashed by the great blackout of July 13.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: A tabloid slice of tabloid life, ragged, vivid, awkward and punchy all at once. Writer-producer-director Spike Lee's hopped-up, sexed-up reimagining of the long hot summer of 1977, when dirty, un-tourist-friendly NYC sweltered in the shadow of the .44 cal… (more)

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