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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.06%
Worth A Look30.83%
Just Average: 16.54%
Pretty Crappy: 17.29%
Sucks: 11.28%

11 reviews, 67 user ratings

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Summer of Sam
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Dust For Eyes

"A scorcher"
5 stars

Spike Lee is once again at his best with a film that looks at the lives of some Italian-Americans in the summer of 1977. The summer of a heat wave, the summer of punk, and the summer of Sam.

The film opens with Berkowitz incensed that he missed last month's issue of Filmink . . .

It's New York. It's 1977.

New York in 1977 meant Studio 54 disco, swinging, bad haircuts and worse clothes. A time of fun, stayin' alive and fondue. Upsetting this time of hedonism over substance, is the killings of young women (and any men who were having a serious case of the wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time and were in the way) by a man tagged by the press as the .44 Killer or, The Son of Sam.

The press - reacting against worrying sales figures at the time - wound up their readers into a potent and paper-selling mix of paranoia, suspicion and stupidity. This is reflected in hairdresser Vinny (Leguizamo - who we saw as Tybalt in Luhrmann's 'Romeo and Juliet' and soon in 'Moulin Rouge') and his aberrant bunch of friends. They live in the area where Sam is preying so they are particularly aware and angry over the killings. While the killings are going on in the background we get to know Vinny and his cohorts.

Ritchie (Brody), an erstwhile friend of Vinny's, returns to the neighbourhood with a new interest in punk. Resplendent in Union Jack T-shirt, leather pants, spiked up hair, and bad accent, Vinny is not all that well received by his old neighbourhood. Their view of style involves white flared suits, healed shoes and shirt collars mistaken for albatross wings. Ritchie is set for some difficulty in getting along with his old friends, including suspicion of being The Son of Sam.

Meanwhile Vinny's insecure wife, Dionna (Sorvino) is desperate to please Vinny. She's worried that she is not good enough for him and she suspects that he is cheating on her. The restaurant owned by her father that she works at is suffering from a lack of business. As with other restaurants and clubs in the area, her father's livelihood is suffering due to the fear generated by the press's beat up of the .44 Killer. Stayin' alive involves staying home.

The fear over the killer is hurting everyone and the police are at a loss to identify the killer. Things get so desperate that the police even ask local organised crime figures (whose Vinny's friends work for) for help.

This film starts off a little lethargically and was in danger of falling into the self-indulgence that Lee's other films have been accused. It all delightfully and spectacularly changes during the 'Baba O'Rielly' sequence. Ritchie is a fan of The Who who perform 'Baba O'Rielly'. That's rather odd for a punk.

Punks were rarely into something that was six weeks ago let alone six years ago. 'Baba O'Rielly' was one of the songs that Pete Townshend wrote for the Lifehouse project that was abandoned and ended up being on the album 'Who's Next'. This album - that also had 'Wont Get Fooled Again' - was released way back in '71. Not very punk. Johnny Rotten once said that he hated The Who's Pete Townshend and thought that he had a silly big nose (which he does). This might show us that Ritchie is a rather confused punk or that the writers of the film didn't do their research (probably the latter). That's enough of the technical
digression . . .

The 'Baba O'Rielly' sequence is a stunning surge of energy and spirit that turns the film right up to eleven. We get an intense look right into the heads of these people living in conditions where some people are on the verge of cracking and others have disturbingly already well and truly cracked. There is an injection of a rage into the film knocking the viewer off the seat.

There are desperate people. Angry people. Frustrated people. It's too hot. People who have just had enough. Incensed. Enraged. Irritated. Fooled people. There's a killer on the loose. People feeling the soaring fire in their veins. Rioting. Even the dog's barking is getting to people.

Beginning with this sequence, the film turns into a stunner. Virtually everything in the film makes sense. You realise how richly drawn the characters are. How Leguizamo, Brody and Sorvino and the others, are fantastic in their performances, the design, the direction, the music - Wonderful.

This film may not be without its flaws (concentrating on things that don't need it, the plodiness, the Jimmy Breslin bits), but Lee has given a film of such towering strength that you forgive him for the flaws as the film emphatically scorches you.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1850&reviewer=166
originally posted: 10/31/99 08:09:25
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User Comments

9/16/17 morris campbell interesting but undone by sleaze & overlength 3 stars
7/22/11 Dave Smith On a ten star scale, a 1/4 star away from a MASTERPIECE. It's about the NEIGHBORHOOD. 5 stars
3/02/11 chris c Somewhat of a spiritual counterpart to Do the right thing despite a lot of vulgarity & sex 4 stars
6/01/09 MP Bartley Sweats and flails to little thick-headed effect. Some good moments survive. 3 stars
7/01/08 jointz on second thought, I can see what Scott's saying, the movie has no straight narrative 4 stars
5/19/08 jointz Weinberg obviously has a stick up his ass! How could you NOT love the Talking Dog? 5 stars
1/27/07 action movie fan funny, tough and super realistic-the best film of 1999 5 stars
6/10/06 Jeff Anderson Some of Lee's strongest, best work to date. Sorvino's sexy & great performance STANDS OUT!! 5 stars
8/19/05 ES Save your money, this has about five minutes of time dedicated to the killer 1 stars
5/21/05 Zelemont Are you SERIOUS? Long, pointless, straying waste of talented actors! BORING! DONT BOTHER!! 1 stars
12/22/04 Landshark visceral characters in that NYC '77 scene, Lee gets it 5 stars
8/14/04 Oliver Fantastic. 5 stars
1/21/04 Sugarfoot Spike Lee sucks, plain and simple. And so do most of his movies. (Girl 6 for one.) 1 stars
1/16/04 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) Definitely one of my top 3 favorite films of all time! It's fucking perfect!!!!! 5 stars
12/18/03 ROY L. CAIN,JR. The first Spike Lee joint to not feature too many black characters. Still a groovy pic. 5 stars
10/18/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) I don't know how Spike does it. Direction is brilliant. Surely among the best of his best. 5 stars
5/11/03 Jack Bourbon Eh. Don't care for it. 2 stars
3/18/03 Jack Sommersby Maddeningly uninvolving and unfocused. This talented cast deserves much better. 2 stars
10/23/02 Charles Tatum Spike can be as racist as the evil white man 1 stars
10/09/02 Kitfo anybody who calls spike lee self indulgent or pretentious should stick to hollywood drivel 5 stars
9/25/02 snowconehead Too much Leguizamo, not enough Sorvino 4 stars
7/17/02 Cris Abisale He Got Game is much better.Too much sex in this movie.Spike=Disappointment 2 stars
3/04/02 Alan Smithee Typical overrated Spike Lee bullshit. 1 stars
12/31/01 Andrew Carden Pretty Realistic Movie...I Didn't Like John Though. 4 stars
9/08/01 Butterbean A very underrated movie. It captured the effect of city-wide panic brilliantly 4 stars
7/28/01 Artist Freak Great performances, really pegs the 70s. Wide array of sex for a non-porn movie. 4 stars
6/28/01 See me Fly!!!! fuck this movie it's fucking hard to fucking understand, they say fuck every fucking second 2 stars
4/18/01 Socutejd This was an insult to serial killers 1 stars
4/17/01 Spetters Spike´s best film yet!! Everything and everyone is great in this explosive film. 5 stars
3/11/01 RACHEL this movie was amazing, very well made, great images 5 stars
2/22/01 italian mobster i liked the music but i cant stand the fact that a fuckin nigger directed an italian film 2 stars
1/18/01 romayne charles John Lequizamos brilliant looks and acting made this film . 4 stars
12/05/00 AtlantaBill What the fuck? There is a talking dog in this movie! Spike Lee, you suck faggots. 1 stars
6/28/00 Bender Entertaining, if overlong. Plus the most use of the F word in a movie I've ever seen. 4 stars
6/23/00 Aaron White Best talking animal scene in film history. Sex scenes restored my will to live. 4 stars
3/09/00 Kyle Broflovski Blergh. I punctuated every scene with a hella yawn. BORING!!! 1 stars
3/08/00 Richard Wright Every noun is preceded by an F word and everyone is either a moron or a slut.Dig it,man.NOT 1 stars
1/20/00 node I found this to be very thought provoking. 4 stars
1/01/00 KK Should be renamed Summer of Idiots. Lee can't direct/act/write his way out of a paper bag. 1 stars
12/31/99 Tyson Stewart It's hot and bloody. Such a great story! 4 stars
11/29/99 Mic Not as good as Do The Right Thing, good nevertheless. "Sam" should've had less screen time. 4 stars
11/24/99 Frank Curigliano Riveting, disturbing, funny and painful. The best film of the year thus far. 5 stars
11/18/99 Matthew Smith Lee's best film since Do The Right Thing, Ambitious, bold and confronting. 5 stars
10/31/99 JonnyAngel this slut of a movie sucks and swallows 1 stars
9/11/99 Jason Kinsey a whirlwind of colorful images, thumps, & sounds-great 4 stars
8/09/99 Alisa Spike Lee shows no class in this film. he didn't even research this movie for truth. 1 stars
8/03/99 Tanya I'm being generous with the rating. Spike Lee making white people look ignorant again. 2 stars
8/02/99 Lola Jones Well put together. However, there were too many sex scenes.:) 4 stars
8/02/99 david napier best film of the summer, and love that leguizamo and lee was funny as the reporter 4 stars
7/31/99 Obi Wan This movie didn't do shit to me or for me...except waste my time! 2 stars
7/21/99 PhilmPhreak Annoying movie about annoying people - and what the fuck was Spike Lee's character? 2 stars
7/16/99 Jo Jo, The Idiot Circus Boy Horror? Movie? Where is the movie? 1 stars
7/11/99 ken heine the punk scene was cool. 2 stars
7/11/99 Ah Dooey Shoddy movie I ever saw. The movie had no substance and not any dialog. 3 stars
7/11/99 evil buffy intrigued by the cinematography; look and sound made up for plot weaknesses. good acting 4 stars
7/09/99 M. Donnelly Quite well done. I really was able to get pissed off at some of the characters. 5 stars
7/09/99 P.S.O.K It wasn't as good as thought it was gonna be 3 stars
7/09/99 bridgette adrien brody-good; everyone else-ok; editing-HORRIBLE. can we say porn? 2 stars
7/06/99 Brian M honest characterizations, bizarro editing and fab music 4 stars
7/06/99 Daddy Rich Spike Lee; what more can you say? 5 stars
7/06/99 Mr showbiz Spike Lee's latest is a triumph of style... and little else. 2 stars
7/06/99 sydney awesome! 5 stars
7/05/99 Malbert Worst piece of crap I've ever seen 1 stars
7/05/99 jvt Overlong, pretentious crap with stereotypical "characters" 1 stars
7/04/99 johntidal a demented bad ass flick with great act that intensifies the terrrror 5 stars
7/04/99 ALiaS WOW!!! Spike Lee has proven that he is diverse enough to do a dark movie!!!! Kudos brother! 5 stars
6/15/99 David A subtle masterpiece; ambitious tale of ordinary lives affected by social paranoia. Great!! 5 stars
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Directed by
  Spike Lee

Written by
  Spike Lee

  John Leguizamo
  Adrien Brody
  Anthony LaPaglia
  Jennifer Esposito
  John Savage
  Bebe Neuwirth

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