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Spike Lee: That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It
. By Spike Lee and Kaleem Aftab. 2006, 320 pages. Order the book from Amazon.com.


Summer of Sam
, 1999. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr.


Malcolm X
. Directed by Spike Lee. With Denzel Washington as Malcolm X. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.de and Amazon.fr.


Do The Right Thing
, 1989. Directed by Spike Lee. With e.g. Spike Lee as Mookie, Danny Aiello as Sal and a sensational John Turturro as one of Sal's sons. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr.



Summer Of Sam
Directed by Spike Lee, 1999
Order Summer of Sam on DVD from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
John Leguizamo ...Vinny
Mira Sorvino ...Dionna
Jennifer Esposito ...Ruby
Adrien Brody ...Ritchie
Michael Rispoli ...Joe T
Bebe Neuwirth ...Gloria
Saverio Guerra ...Woodstock
Ben Gazzara...Luigi
Michael Badalucco...David Berkowitz


Article added on September 3, 2001  
At the box office, Summer of Sam flopped in the USA some time ago. In Switzerland, the film was only released this summer where it did not bring big crowds into the cinema either. However, Spike Lee's movie offers a great study of a certain environment in New York City in 1977. As someone says in the film, there are eight million stories about this city - this is one of them.
 
At the very beginning, Summer of Sam does not adequately catch your attention because the movie's rhythm and the story are not engaging. Still, the idea of letting David Berkowitz (Michael Badalucco), who called himself "Son of Sam", shoot people to the Disco sound of ABBA is quite original. The film is not mainly about the killer who, in 1978, was sentenced to 300 years in prison and is still serving his sentence. Spike Lee paints a dark picture of the Italian part of the Bronx where infidelity, drug traffic and abuse, discrimination and hatred reign or are ready to surface at any moment as the result of any minor incident. Quickly, one gets involved with the lives of the main characters, Vinny (John Leguizamo) and his wife Dionna (Mira Sorvino) as well as with his buddy Ritchie (Adrien Brody) and Ruby (Jennfer Esposito) who becomes Ritchie's girlfriend.
 
Vinny is a macho type who cheats on his wife, partly because he cannot live out his sexual fantasies with Dionna - one does not do dirty things with one's wife. One day, Ritchie decides to become a punk. He comes into the Italian neighborhood wearing a Union Jack T-shirt, shocking with a punk haircut and speaking with a British accent. Ritchie becomes a member of the punk band Late Term Abortion. The road to fame is hard and, therefore, he also works as stripper and prostitute in a club for homosexuals.
 
The police asks the local Mafia to help them to find the killer. Luigi (Ben Gazzara) does not trust the cops and instead organizes vigilante groups, armed with baseball bats. As in Do The Right Thing, Spike Lee, depicts NYC as a melting-pot ready to boil over.
 
As often in history, the one who is different, the bisexual punk Ritchie, becomes a victim of public hatred. His parents confine him to live in their garage. Some Italian guys suspect him of being the "Son of Sam". In the end, even his best friend Vinny betrays him.
 
Astonishingly, Mira Sorvino does not, as usual, overshadow the other actors. This is partly due to her role as the decent and naive (regarding her husband's infidelities) wife who works as a waitress in her father's restaurant. Still, Sorvino's performance remains pale by her standards. Jennifer Esposito as Ruby, a young woman who becomes Ritchie's girlfriend and turns into a punk rocker too, gives the most memorable female performance. However, the undisputed star of the film is John Leguizamo. The way he portrays Vinny, the Catholic hairdresser, womanizer and weak character who feels guilt for his actions but cannot change, makes Summer of Sam a movie not to miss. Adrien Brody as Ritchie is not bad either. In fact, the entire cast is excellent.
 
This is an extreme movie with a lot of violence and sex. But at the same time, there is an honest down-to-Earth side to it which makes Spike Lee dig deep into disturbed minds and souls.
 
John Leguizamo was born in Bogota, Colombia, in 1964. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1968. He decided to become an actor and studied at New York University and with Lee Strasberg (one day before Strasberg died). Leguizamo began his career as a stand-up comedian in several New York clubs. His TV debut came in 1986 with a part in an episode of the Miami Vice series. His big screen debut followed in 1989 with a small part in DePalma's Casualties of War. In 1991, he had minor roles in Die Hard 2, Regarding Henry and other movies. This was also the year of this breakthrough with the leading roles in Hangin' with the Homeboys and Mambo Mouth. For this performance, Leguizamo, who portrayed seven Latino characters, won the Obie and Outer Critics Circle Awards. Later shown on HBO, it won him also a CableACE award. In 1993, Leguizamo returned to the stage with the one-man show Spic-O-Rama. Sold-out in Chicago and in New York, it won him a Drama Desk Award and, after airing on HBO, four CableACE Awards. In 1993, Leguizamo also played the part of a young punk in Brian DePalma's Carlito's Way. His first leading part in a major production came with Super Mario Bros. In 1995, Leguizamo created and starred in a TV comedy-variety show called House of Buggin'. It was the first one with an all-Latino cast. Despite two Emmy nominations, it did not have a long life. Leguizamo's performance as Chi Chi Rodriguez in the not very convincing To Wong Foo: Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar earned him a Golden Globe nomination. Other films with Leguizamo include The Fan (1996) and Spawn  (1997). His critically and publicly acclaimed Broadway debut came in 1998 with Freak, a one-man show directed by David Bar Katz. The TV version earned him an Emmy. In 1999 came Leguizamo's leading role in Summer of Sam. The same year, he was the leading actor and executive producer of Frank Whaley's directorial debut, Joe the King. At the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, it won a screenwriting award. Recently, Leguizamo shot (or is about to shoot) What's the Worst That Could Happen? (2001), Moulin Rouge (2001), Collateral Damage (2001) and Ice Age (2002). Leguizamo is one of the rare actors to be taken seriously both as a comic performer and a dramatic actor.
 
For information on Mira Sorvino, check our article:
Mira Sorvino.
 

Jennifer Esposito was born in New York where she trained at the Lee Strasberg Institute. In the early 1990s, she appeared on TV, e.g. in New York Undercover. She had small parts in the independent movie productions Kiss Me, Guido (1997) and A Brother's Kiss (1997). However, Jennifer Esposito was best known for her part as Michael J. Fox's secretary in ABC's sitcom Spin City. Her movie credits also include the blue collar romance No Looking Back (1998), I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) and Spike Lee's basketball drama He Got Game (1998). After her part as Ruby in  Summer of Sam (1999), Jennifer left Spin City in 1999. Her latest films include The Bachelor (1999), Just One Time (2000), Boys Life 3 (2000), Made (2001) and Don't Say a Word (2001) with Michael Douglas.
 
Adrien Brody was born in NYC. At 12, he was performing as a magician at children's parties. His mother, a photographer, encouraged him to take acting classes. Adrien attended both the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the High School for the Performing Arts. He worked in off-Broadway productions. His TV debut came in 1988 with a part in the PBS movie Home at Last. After a year of college, Brody played a critically acclaimed part in Steven Soderbergh's drama King of the Hill (1993). This opened the door to other films such as Angels in the Outfield (1994) and The Last Time I Committed Suicide (1997) which co-starred Keanu Reeves. In 1997, Brody had lead roles in The Undertaker's Wedding and Six Ways to Sunday. In 1999, his picture appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair. His latest movies include The Thin Red Line (1998), Summer of Sam (1999), Harrison's Flowers (2001), Bread and Roses (2001) and The Affair of the Necklace (2001).



Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages

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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.