Summer of Sam

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
Director: Spike Lee
Writers: Spike Lee, Victor Colicchio and Michael Imperioli
Buena Vista; R; 145 minutes
Release: 6/99
Cast: John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito

Spike Lee is interested in pressure points, hotspots where kindling erupts into flame. In his latest film — sister to 1989's Do The Right Thing — he takes on the New York City's broiling summer of 1977, when the Yankees won the World Series as the Son of Sam brutalized innocents, when the power went out and the looting began and everyone's temperatures rose.

Lee trains his stylized eye on a working-class Italian neighborhood in the Bronx. As always, Lee's edgy visual intelligence and knack for local color almost balance out a predominance of male-oriented themes . When citywide muscles tense, Vinny (John Leguizamo) experiences a complex, coked-out clash of feelings for his doting wife (Mira Sorvino). His neighborhood buddie Ritchie's (Adrien Brody) double life involves gay porn and prostitution. Upon going punk, Ritchie transforms into the neighborhood pariah-Son of Sam's murders have pushed the Italian men into macho vigilantism.

Any epic about New York City must necessarily be cluttered. And it must also offer bold, breathtaking vision. Summer of Sam fits the description.

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