Last week, readers were introduced to the term “dansical,” a musical without singing. With its liberating lack of dependence on traditional song and dance routines and a script fashioned out of twenty or so poems, Summertime earns a category all its own: the slam poetrysical. First impression: 18 poems in search of a narrative quickly vanished under the pulsating outbursts of measured rhythm that the characters, frequently played by the poets, brought to their individual segments. The story unfolds stream-of-consciousness style, frequently jumping from character to character before settling on one. Will it be the passenger who stepped off the bus, the street musician he passed, or the guy dropping money in the horn player’s tip cup before meeting his wife for couples therapy? The action can occasionally grind to a halt for a brief recital, and too often, images meant to enhance the verse simply mirror them. (And the lover of camera movement in me was disappointed by director Carlos López Estrada’s reliance on straight-cuts to transport us from scene to scene.) Some of the characters run consistently throughout, others drop in, rap a little, and vamoose. It’s only as good as the character that occupies the screen at any given moment, but when a connection is made, the result is something spectacular. (2020) — Scott Marks
This movie is not currently in theaters.