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Fields of Gold (2002)
Left a nasty taste in the mouth (and that's NOT the GM food)
'Fields of Gold': Science fiction. For many commentators the science used here was nonsensical. According to the Independent newspaper, the Science Media Centre's director, Fiona Fox, was not impressed by this movie. "It's a fairly safe bet that if the authors of Fields of Gold, the drama about GM crops screened on BBC 1, are asked to produce a sequel to their "conspiracy thriller", they will write in a new role for a sinister, biotech-funded media centre. The real-life Science Media Centre (SMC) found itself cast in its own conspiracy by the drama's authors - Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, and his co-author and Guardian colleague Ronan Bennett - after a row about the plausibility of the science in the anti-GM storyline. In a series of newspaper articles and television interviews, the writers described the new SMC as a "lobby group" for big biotech companies, and accused the centre of orchestrating an ugly, secret campaign to discredit the programme and "dump on" The Guardian and the BBC. The truth about the SMC and its role in this story is less sinister" (quoting from the Independent newspaper). Rumour has it that Rushbridger later blocked Fox's sister Claire from writing a column in the Society (social services) section of his newspaper the Guardian. Subsequently Guardian gossip columnists ran a series of attacks and innuendos about Fiona Fox. Touchy...
90210 meets fangoria with 25% of the style
Highly diluted Argento copycat. Interesting as an early take on the reality TV genre, except that Blair Witch and especially Series 7: the Contenders did it better. Surprisingly costly exercise in editing that made little sense. Gruesome moments are preaching to the converted. If you are a horror fan then others do the gore better (Shogun Assassin or Absurd, anyone?) If not then there's nothing here for you.
Summer of Sam (1999)
Summer of Sam was berated on its US release by New Yorkers and relatives of the victims of serial killer David Berkowitz alike. In the summer of 1977, paranoia eclipsed disco fever as the so-called .44 Killer murdered six and injured seven, all while keeping in contact with columnist Jimmy Breslin (whose comments bookend this movie). Not the kind of events to revisit in these days of the easily offended, and seeing Lee's claustrophobic take on Berkowitz in his deranged apartment is almost enough deter you from visiting the Big Apple.
The focus of the movie is an insular community of Italian-Americans. Mistrust rules the roost: the only thing close-knit about them is an occasional cheesy tank-top. Fear and conformity underpin the set-pieces upon which Lee thrives, from cops meeting a Mafia chief (Ben Gazarra) to a half-hearted Studio 54-style orgy. John Leguizamo thrives when passing himself off as John Travolta, but his marriage is a hollow sham. His quest for redemption hinges on saving punk friend Ritchie (Adrien Brody) from both himself and the lynchmob they grew up with.
Summer of Sam has invited comparisons with Do the Right Thing, on account of its portrayal of the simmering tensions building up to horrendous violence. Yet the lifestyles on show throughout make it closer to Scorsese's Mean Streets, albeit balanced by several strong female leads, notably Mira Sorvino. At 142 minutes it has stretched the attention span of some viewers and reviewers, but as the closing credits roll Lee has got us to care about the characters as each boils over. Ditching the irksome music video/sitcom visuals - even at a Late-term Abortions gig, with Ritchie on guitar - this is Spike Lee's most mature joint to date.
Police 2020 (1997)
Future cops? A dreary trawl through modern-day misanthropy
A plot summary: The conflict centers around Eddie Longshaw (Keith Barron) who has taken a group of Russian immigrants hostage in an elevator, blaming the immigrant population for an outbreak of tuberculosis that took the lives of most of his family. Detective Chief Inspector Billy O'Connell (Liam Cunningham) is in charge of the nightshift force brought in to resolve the situation. However, he and a colleague, played by Rachel Davies, are both up for a promotion and they are being watched throughout the crisis to see who performs better, their superiors taking advantage of the situation to pit them against each other.
Against this backdrop, we get to see that cops in the year 2020 will be the same hateful, moaning misanthropists that British viewers have got used to during a decade of 'the Bill', with none of the wit that makes _Homicide: LOTS_ so great. The plot lacks basic logic in places - maybe some of this could have been ironed out had it gone from a pilot to a series.
A big disappointment to anyone who looks to the future with any optimism. It's a shame because there's obviously a lot of effort gone into it from the cast.
Feel free to disagree