by Jürgen Fauth
Music video maverick and first-time feature director Jonas Åkerlund shoots the story of speed freak Ross (Jason Schwartzman) with unrelenting MTV zip, overexposed film stock and edgy jump cuts. Think "Trainspotting," think "Kids," think "Requiem for a Dream," only funny -- that is, if you think leaving naked women tied to the bedposts for days while a heavy metal CD skips at full volume is funny.
In "Spun," nobody sleeps because everbody's strung out on crystal meth. Unlike the naturalistic junkies of "Requiem," the prodigy cast here plumbs weirder, more cartoonish depths. John Leguziamo's best moment as paranoid Spider Mike involves nothing but a sock (how Chili Peppers of him). Patrick Fugit, the charmingly innocent kid from "Almost Famous," is covered in zits and boils and plays video games involving masturbating monkeys. Mena Suvari, the flawless object of Kevin Spacey's desire in "American Beauty," finds herself in dirty pajamas, fur slippers, with rotten teeth and problem bowels.
The sun sets, the sun rises, and the speed freaks soldier on, buggy-eyed. Crooked cops do speed before imitating the Beastie Boys' Sabotage video. Mickey Rourke, operating a drug lab, blows up motels and gives speeches on the power of pussy while stripper Nikki (Brittany Murphy) dreams of better days in Vegas. Surreal cartoons invade the screen, do a manic dance, and disappear just as abruptly.
As the world spins around him, Jason Schwartzman ("Rushmore") stays at the center, leaving the umpteenth call on his ex-girlfriend's voice message. Schwartzman deserves ample praise for imbuing Ross's recklessness with a solid emotional core: in spite of ourselves, we have to like this guy.
Your own tastes will dictate whether you think of "Spun" as
shocking, edgy, hilarious, or disgusting. Boring it's not. In the ever-evolving
genealogy of the drug movie, Åkerlund successfully manages to put
a new spin on the genre.
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