I know I may be one of the three people to say this (Roger Ebert being another of the few), but I think "Summer of Sam" is a great movie! First off, I'm a Spike Lee fan and I do feel that this is one of his best films. I think the problem most people had with the movie was that it wasn't the standard serial killer thriller they were expecting. If that's what you're expecting, you will be disappointed. Instead, "S.O.S." is a character study that focuses on the paranoia that spread amongst New Yorkers in the summer of the late seventies, when everyone was suspecting one another of being the Son of Sam. It was like a modern-day version of the Salem Witch Hunt. If you were as much as an eccentric, you were a suspect (like in the case of Adrien Brody's character in this movie). I like movies that focus on characters, and take time to develop them to a point where a feel a deep connection to each of them. Spike is one of those directors who favors character development over plot devices, and I think that's what makes most of his films work. The characters and dialogue are written in a very realistic fashion. It helps that Spike cast mostly authentic New York actors (i.e.: Adrien Brody, Jennifer Esposito, Mike Starr, Michael Rispoli). First of all, they don't have to fake their accents. Secondly, New Yorkers just have a certain vibe that cannot be fabricated. It also helps that the actors all have a great chemistry with one another. The cast is excellent all-around, with not one bad apple in the bunch. I think John Leguizamo gives the best performance of his career. For a comedic actor, he can surely pull off a straight role with flying colors. Part of the reason why is because he doesn't try too hard to play the drama, and when there's a scene that gives him a comic opportunity, he takes advantage. It's nice to see that Brody became famous, after winning an Oscar for "The Pianist" (as a side note, he's the youngest ever actor to win a Best Actor Oscar). If you're anxious to check out one of his good earlier performances, he does a superb job in this movie. Some people have criticized the use of F-bombs throughout the film--and yes, there are many. If you're easily offended by bad language, this will be like sitting through a death camp. But I didn't feel the language was in any way gratuitous. We're dealing with working-class Italian-Americans from the Bronx, who are involved in things like drugs and prostitution! Obviously, they're not going to be saying things like "gosh darn it!" This is not like "South Park" where there's just profanity for the sake of profanity. It adds to the film's realism. Finally, I loved the film's lighting style. Some of the shots are rough and grainy, but it helps intensify the gritty tone of the film. If you're one of those people who likes slow-moving character studies with great acting, you might share my feelings about "Summer of Sam." Obviously, if you're part of the summer blockbuster crowd who favors explosions and gross-out gags, this will put you to sleep. The movie runs at approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes, yet I never once felt bored. I'm not one of those people with a minute attention span, but any movie that can sustain my interest for 2 hours and 20 minutes deserves much acclaim. I have nothing wrong with long movies, as long as they're not overlong. After all, bad movies are never too short and good movies are never too long. When a movie is this great, you don't want it to end abruptly; you want it to keep going. (10 out of 10)
P.S.: The seventies soundtrack is magnificent!