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Summer of Sam

Summer of Sam

Genders: Romance, Crime, Drama

Director: Spike Lee

Writer: Spike Lee, Victor Colicchio (screenplay), Michael

Actors: John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito

Year: 1999
Run time: 142min
IMDB score: 6.6
Updated: one year ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: Summer of Sam

Genders: Romance, Crime, Drama

Imdb Score: 6.6

Runtime: 142min

Released: 02 Jul 1999

Director: Spike Lee

Writer: Spike Lee, Victor Colicchio (screenplay), Michael

Actors: John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito

Imdb Link

Summer of Sam Available Subtitles

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Trailer


Review

The Son of Sam story is an effective backdrop

9/10 I really enjoyed this movie. The Son of Sam killings are just a backdrop to a slice-of-life story in New York City in the summer of 1977. I believe that Spike Lee wanted to tell a story about the seventies - the excesses of sex, drugs and the desperation of the times. He chose a summer that stood out in the minds of the people who lived through it because of the record heat, the murders and the blackout. The Son of Sam killer was in one sense a strongly contrasting back drop and in another sense an extreme sign of the times. David Berkowitz was out of control and driven by invisible demons, but that could be said of the main character Vinnie. The difference between the two could almost be reduced to a matter of degree. I was struck by the part of the story where a group of friends thought the killer was one of their own because he was into punk rock and same-sex sex for money. Their misunderstanding of the killer seemed startling in light of what we know about serial killers today, but was dead on for the time. Spike Lee reminds us with this movie how much damage is done when we allow ourselves to be driven by our ignorance and fear. He makes us uncomfortable, of course, but the lesson rings so true. As far as the direction went, I thought that it was classic Spike Lee with a little taken from some other popular young directors, but if someone imitates something good and does it well, I don't complain. My favorite scene is where the punk rocker character Richie does a porno dance to The Who. The soundtrack is also pretty good, by the way. I gave the movie a 9 out of 10.

one year ago

A Flashy Departure For Spike Lee...

8/10 Spike Lee goes berserk with SUMMER OF SAM, a twisted revisiting of the Son of Sam killings, New York, 1977. Lee steps away from his usual message pictures depicting the differences between blacks and whites and plunges us into the small Italian neighborhood within the largest city in the United States that serial killer David Berkowitz terrorized for months. The "Son of Sam" himself (played by Michael Badalucco) is placed in the back seat and Lee presents a community and an era for that matter in complete chaos.

SUMMER OF SAM has its good points and its bad points. We get to know this locale very well whether we like it or not. The characters who populate the neighborhood are funny, sad, and stupid all at the same time. You get a feel for the smells and the language of that time in that place. 1977 was the year of Disco's peak, the uprising of British punk rock (represented well by the Adrien Brody character "Ritchie"), and the Yankees were on top of the baseball world. These characters are truly nuts in their vigilante approach to finding the killer. Hell, Reggie Jackson (#44) may be the .44 caliber killer.

Aside from seeing into a sometimes gripping and stupefying world of violence and flash, the film does go overboard many times. Lee continuously rams the sex aspect of the period into our minds and Berkowitz is not seen or known enough. I did not expect a Berkowitz bio at all, however a more focused look at the killer would have proved more effective. The relationship between "Vinny" and "Dionna" (John Leguizamo and Mira Sirvino) is well-done, but over-told. True, "Vinny" is the movie's central character, but he has barely a redeeming quality and is a hard-headed product of his environment.

The cinematography and overall sound of SUMMER OF SAM is awesome. It looks grimy when it should and the use of The Who on the soundtrack is emotionally rousing, especially during the inevitable climax. I liked the picture mostly for cinematic reasons than for historical or emotional ones. The fictional neighborhood pieces are not as good as the small glimpses of Berkowitz, who does indeed chat with dogs. It did remind me in many ways of Lee's DO THE RIGHT THING, but this film has a larger canvas to paint. It works despite the shortcomings.

RATING: ***

one year ago

Sam-Enchanted Evenings

5/10 Summer of Sam was berated on its US release by New Yorkers and relatives of the victims of serial killer David Berkowitz alike. In the summer of 1977, paranoia eclipsed disco fever as the so-called .44 Killer murdered six and injured seven, all while keeping in contact with columnist Jimmy Breslin (whose comments bookend this movie). Not the kind of events to revisit in these days of the easily offended, and seeing Lee's claustrophobic take on Berkowitz in his deranged apartment is almost enough deter you from visiting the Big Apple.

The focus of the movie is an insular community of Italian-Americans. Mistrust rules the roost: the only thing close-knit about them is an occasional cheesy tank-top. Fear and conformity underpin the set-pieces upon which Lee thrives, from cops meeting a Mafia chief (Ben Gazarra) to a half-hearted Studio 54-style orgy. John Leguizamo thrives when passing himself off as John Travolta, but his marriage is a hollow sham. His quest for redemption hinges on saving punk friend Ritchie (Adrien Brody) from both himself and the lynchmob they grew up with.

Summer of Sam has invited comparisons with Do the Right Thing, on account of its portrayal of the simmering tensions building up to horrendous violence. Yet the lifestyles on show throughout make it closer to Scorsese's Mean Streets, albeit balanced by several strong female leads, notably Mira Sorvino. At 142 minutes it has stretched the attention span of some viewers and reviewers, but as the closing credits roll Lee has got us to care about the characters as each boils over. Ditching the irksome music video/sitcom visuals - even at a Late-term Abortions gig, with Ritchie on guitar - this is Spike Lee's most mature joint to date.

Graham Barnfield

one year ago

Great movie!

10/10 I know I may be one of the three people to say this (Roger Ebert being another of the few), but I think "Summer of Sam" is a great movie! First off, I'm a Spike Lee fan and I do feel that this is one of his best films. I think the problem most people had with the movie was that it wasn't the standard serial killer thriller they were expecting. If that's what you're expecting, you will be disappointed. Instead, "S.O.S." is a character study that focuses on the paranoia that spread amongst New Yorkers in the summer of the late seventies, when everyone was suspecting one another of being the Son of Sam. It was like a modern-day version of the Salem Witch Hunt. If you were as much as an eccentric, you were a suspect (like in the case of Adrien Brody's character in this movie). I like movies that focus on characters, and take time to develop them to a point where a feel a deep connection to each of them. Spike is one of those directors who favors character development over plot devices, and I think that's what makes most of his films work. The characters and dialogue are written in a very realistic fashion. It helps that Spike cast mostly authentic New York actors (i.e.: Adrien Brody, Jennifer Esposito, Mike Starr, Michael Rispoli). First of all, they don't have to fake their accents. Secondly, New Yorkers just have a certain vibe that cannot be fabricated. It also helps that the actors all have a great chemistry with one another. The cast is excellent all-around, with not one bad apple in the bunch. I think John Leguizamo gives the best performance of his career. For a comedic actor, he can surely pull off a straight role with flying colors. Part of the reason why is because he doesn't try too hard to play the drama, and when there's a scene that gives him a comic opportunity, he takes advantage. It's nice to see that Brody became famous, after winning an Oscar for "The Pianist" (as a side note, he's the youngest ever actor to win a Best Actor Oscar). If you're anxious to check out one of his good earlier performances, he does a superb job in this movie. Some people have criticized the use of F-bombs throughout the film--and yes, there are many. If you're easily offended by bad language, this will be like sitting through a death camp. But I didn't feel the language was in any way gratuitous. We're dealing with working-class Italian-Americans from the Bronx, who are involved in things like drugs and prostitution! Obviously, they're not going to be saying things like "gosh darn it!" This is not like "South Park" where there's just profanity for the sake of profanity. It adds to the film's realism. Finally, I loved the film's lighting style. Some of the shots are rough and grainy, but it helps intensify the gritty tone of the film. If you're one of those people who likes slow-moving character studies with great acting, you might share my feelings about "Summer of Sam." Obviously, if you're part of the summer blockbuster crowd who favors explosions and gross-out gags, this will put you to sleep. The movie runs at approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes, yet I never once felt bored. I'm not one of those people with a minute attention span, but any movie that can sustain my interest for 2 hours and 20 minutes deserves much acclaim. I have nothing wrong with long movies, as long as they're not overlong. After all, bad movies are never too short and good movies are never too long. When a movie is this great, you don't want it to end abruptly; you want it to keep going. (10 out of 10)

P.S.: The seventies soundtrack is magnificent!

one year ago

Just one story about the summer of 1977 in New York.

8/10 The Summer Of Sam is the story of just one group of people and what they went through during the Summer of 1977 in New York during the "Son of Sam murders". If you are expecting a film the is solely about the David Berkowitz and the son of sam murders you will be dissapointed because while this does tell that story all the way through the film it is more about a just one set of people and how it affected them. The acting is very good especially from John Leguizano (vinny) and the gorgious Mira Sorvino (Dionna) and although sometimes the film drags a little they make this fresh and worthwile sticking through the 137 minutes. The soundtrack is fantastic as is the direction from Spike Lee and it is nice to see him doing a subject that is different from his usual African American topics. A good movie . 8 out of 10.

one year ago