Summer of Sam (1999) Kino Studio Classics Feb 4th 2020
Directed By: Spike Lee
Starring: John Leguizamo, Adrian Brody, Mira Sorvino, Michael Risoli
Rumor has it Spike Lee had originally intended his 1999 film Summer of Sam to be more focused on the killer with the film initially called Son of Sam. I find this unlikely as Lee's films often focus on communities and I cant help but think he always intended Summer to be as is. During the summer of 1977 the night air was full of disco dancing, Star Wars was still smashing box office records and a killer was stocking its prey armed with a .44. The film centers around a handful of characters during the Son of Sam's reign of terror and its impact on its neighborhood. As the July heat swelters so does the chaos and insanity within the town. Love him or hate him you cant deny that Spike Lee is a force within the film landscape. Its been a long time since I've seen Summer of Sam-honestly probably over ten years. Now with Kino Studio Classics re-releasing a brand new Blu Ray I was excited to re-visits it.
This is a shame because I love the idea behind this movie. Its wonderful smart to build this movie around the hot hazy summer of '77 and how the senseless murders can in fect an already broken community already on the brink of destruction. There is no doubt that this film is well shot, well acted and edited and features a killer soundtrack. But all this great stuff feels like its undone by its overly drawn out run-time and at times spiteful attitude. The way it normalizes and seemingly promotes hate speech and violence I found incredibly off putting.
Kino Studio Classics has re-released this for its 21st anniversary. The picture looks great and it looks to be sourced from the original film material. The film has a unique color palate and this upgraded release showcases that. As I said the soundtrack is great and the audio sports a nice 2.0 AND 5.1 track. The film features a vintage commentary with Spike Lee and John Leguizamo. It also features an interview with actor John Leguizamo. Rounding out the features is a trailers. Kino has rolled out a total of five Spike Lee movies: Jungle Fever, Summer of Sam, Clockers, Crooklyn and Mo Better Blues.