‘Summertime’ Review: A Cinematic Spoken Word Revelation | Sundance 2020

Collider | 1/25/2020 | Perri Nemiroff
graceygracey (Posted by) Level 3
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For whatever reason, I’ve never been drawn to spoken word poetry. Perhaps this has a little something to do with limited exposure to the art form, but that didn’t stop me from making the assumption that I wouldn’t like Blindspotting director Carlos López Estrada’s second feature, Summertime. The movie puts the spotlight on 25 people whose lives intersect over the course of a July day in Los Angeles. Those roles are played by high school performers who also get writing credits because Estrada set out to make a “spoken-word showcase” where they could combine their own work in a loosely connected fashion. The results are revelatory and inspiring.

While it did take some time to adjust to the format and cadence of the film, once the intoxicating performances and melodic delivery take hold, it never lets go. Summertime plays like a series of vignettes of full, very rich moments. The first of the bunch to really hook me featured Mila Cuda on a public bus professing her sexual orientation to a judgmental passenger. It’s a riveting scene all on its own that also highlights one of the most powerful pieces of connective tissue in Summertime – all of the segments feature young Angelenos embracing who they are and sharing it with the world.

Connectors - Summertime - Standouts - Tyris - Winter

As far as narrative connectors go, that’s where we find one of the Summertime standouts, Tyris Winter. After an incident at a restaurant, we come to learn that Tyris is a frequent and very critical Yelp reviewer. Not only does his portion of the movie boast some of the biggest laughs, but Winter also has a hugely commanding and charming presence.

Truly, everyone in Summertime delivers excellent work and greatly contributes to the desire to just hang out with these characters forever, but there’s one downright remarkable performer...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Collider
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