"But it's me who should be protecting you."
"Like last time?"
-Jamie and Linda
Perhaps this strategy was first utilized by the great movie American Graffiti (1973), but it seems that each time a film is made about the 1960s, the producers seem intent on flooding the soundtrack with hit songs of that time. Don't get me wrong, I love many of the songs which came out during this period, but when a movie just hits you over the head with the fact that it's taking place in the 60s rather than with just telling a story, it becomes annoying after a while.
Happily, Five Corners doesn't fall into that trap. There are one or two songs heard in the film (notably the great Beatles song "In My Life," which bookends the film and was also its trailer), but, musicwise, the original score by James Newton Howard gives the film an appropriately moody tone.
It is 1964 in the Bronx. In between Kennedy's assassination and before the Gulf of Tonkin (which truly kicked off the U.S.'s military involvement in Vietnam), we see people just living their lives when Heinz (John Turturro) arrives, having just gotten out of prison. Jamie (Todd Graff) gets wind of this and tells Linda (Jodie Foster), the girl he loves and whom Heinz attempted to rape years earlier. Nonplussed, she goes to Harry (Tim Robbins), who helped put Heinz in prison. Harry has since become a pacifist and attempts to simply talk to Heinz when they meet up.
At the same time, a schoolteacher (played by a guy who looks like Matt Frewer, although the imdb's entry on this film doesn't have his name) is murdered by an arrow to the back on his way to school one morning. When some of his students hear the news, they simply decide to take advantage of the day off school they now have.
Heinz eventually catches up with Linda and they meet at midnight in the nearby park after he makes indirect threats about Jamie. Heinz tries to prove his love for her by giving her two penguins he stole from the Bronx zoo. Linda politely turns down the gift, correctly pointing out that penguins require more special care than cats or dogs. Heinz angrily replies by killing one of the penguins.
Although Linda takes the other and temporarily escapes to Jamie, Heinz finds her again and knocks her out. Taking her to the roof of a building, Heinz is caught by Jamie and Harry before Heinz gets the same arrow in the back the teacher got.
The events here may be melodramatic to some, but the interesting characters make this worthwhile. The fact that not everything (i.e. the identity of the bow-and-arrow killer) is wrapped up nicely but the main characters end up in a (dramatically) satisfying place make this worth watching.