SUMMER OF SAM
Reviewed July 10th, 2000 by Brian White
Spike Lee makes a bold step in making a movie against type, a movie about white people. Summer of Sam deals with a group of characters living in the same area of New York where the Son of Sam murders are taking place. The murders are just one of the storylines in this character exploration. Given the non-sympathetic portrayal of Italian Americans in Lee's prior films, this exercise is at the very least, unique.
This is a movie about families, friends and community. Often, what is seen is ugly. It is sometimes difficult to identify with the characters. Some interesting cinematic techniques are employed in portraying the killer's psychosis. On a more critical note, the movie seems to drag, and Lee's politics still creep in to the point of distraction. Given all of this, there are pieces of this film that will dig into your conscience, and will resonate for days after the viewing.
Summer of Sam misses its mark, but hits many others. Lee's craft is quite remarkable. Hopefully this box office, and to some degree critical failure doesn't hinder his art.
Lee's cast is quite talented. Most notable are John Leguizamo and Mira Sorvino. The cast is surrounded in a nostalgia-dripping portrayal of New York in 1977.
The disc boasts a 1.85:1, non-anamorphic transfer. It is a good non-anamorphic transfer, but not overwhelmingly so. There is nothing about the transfer which takes away from the experience, it just doesn't leap off the screen like some DVDs.
The 5.1 mix is used quite effectively. When the characters enter a disco, the sub booms, and passing voices are heard in the surrounds. When Lee shows the tortured Sam in his room, the sub throbs, and the drone is heard throughout the soundstage.
As for extras, there are none: a trailer is included, and some helpful suggestions for other DVDs on which to spend money. This just doesn't cut it.
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