Summer of Sam Movie Review

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As narrator Jimmy Breslin (as himself) puts it, there's 8 million stories in the naked city, and this is one of them. I just wish it didn't have to be so long.

Spike Lee's latest joint, like much of his recent work, is an epic exercise in tedium. While it's punctuated by moments of greatness - and sometimes, even genius -- those moments come too few and too far between to make Summer of Sam a truly great film. Sure, the tale of New York City in 1977, when David Berkowitz, a.k.a. Son of Sam, was marauding the Bronx with a .44 revolver, is a great place to start. But clocking in at almost 2 1/2 hours, you're likely to wish Son of Sam had taken you out at the halfway point.

Again, Lee has plenty of raw material to work with: Leguizamo, Sorvino, and Brody are all great actors (I'm blocking The Pest from my mind, forgive me), and the clever, neo-16mm look Lee has put on the film really drops you into the late 1970s lock, stock, and mirrorball. With the disco/punk clash going on, a record heat wave, and Reggie Jackson taking the Yankees to the World Series, the mis en scene is certainly set. Spike knows New York cold.

But what about this script, which wanders aimlessly among Leguizamo and Sorvino's marital troubles, Brody and his infatuation with the punk scene and his need to do gay porn to earn cash, the mob society of the Bronx, and, of course, the Son of Sam and the dog which tells him to kill kill KILL! These are actually four of those stories in the naked city, and it's hard to care about all of them together. A dozen meandering side plots don't help matters either.

However, Spike does excellent work putting you dead center in this turmoil, and that I can respect. But please, somebody bring me the head of the editor on a silver platter. (Of course, there were actually two of them working on this picture... sigh.)

You talkin' to him?

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Summer of Sam Rating

" Weak "

Rating: R, 1999


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