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Finally A Drug Movie That's Actually About The Drugs

Wrt. Will De Los Santos, Creighton Vero
Dir. Jonas Akerlund
Str. Jason Schwartzman, Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari
Opens March 14th

Spun opens with the message "Based on the Truth... And Lies." Ha Ha Ha, you chortle, that is so vague it's intelligent. Actually no, it's not. I was pretty sure this was a sign of poor things to come, but then with no warning whatsoever you are thrust into an opening scene which so perfectly depicts the gritty, edgy, jagged phase and feeling of tweaking really hard that you forget about everything else. At first it's impossible to engage the movie, because it's trying to operate on such a different level, to give you a totally different type of consciousness but after a minute or two you are so sucked into the world of the movie that everything outside of it just disappears. And while there's nothing vague about the movie, and even less that's intelligent, Spun is a well-made, accurate, very wild ride.

As Spun progresses, the pace of the movie matches Ross' (Schwartzman) reaction to his drug perfectly. As soon as he scores the jagged edge of the first ten minutes is gone, instantly, and so the cinematography and the sound calm themselves down too; but, then, after a few minutes he begins to itch for more, and likewise the movie starts to get a little scratchy, and then when he finds more it softens, and so on and so on, perpetually.

Most movies about drugs are peppered with a subtle anti-drug message. Spun simultaneously manages to refuse to sink that low and dish it out like it's never been dished before. The movie is actually three or four constantly impending disasters, not just one drug induced train wreck. You don't wonder if Ross is going to make it out alive, rather you're amazed that he's managed this long in this state. But it isn't trying to say how awful a thing crystal is. Rather, more like a documentary, it simply depicts the world of the user flatly and without comment.

Free Williamsburg
Film Archive


View From the Top
Laurel Canyon

Ordinary Sinner
Dark Blue
The Quiet American


Hell House
Good Housekeeping
Roger Dodger
Spirited Away
Punch-Drunk Love
Bowling For Columbine
Scarlet Diva
Full Frontal
Sex and Lucia
The Powerpuff Girls Movie
Read My Lips (Sur Mes Levres)
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Human Nature
Shot in the Heart
Jim Brown: All American
Stolen Summer
Ram Dass: Fierce Grace

There are a lot of unnecessary pieces to this movie. Things that don't quite make sense, things that restate themselves over and over again, and are generally quite distracting. Part of me wants to believe that this is to create an ambiance, that without these extraneous bits the movie wouldn't feel right. It wouldn't be distracting enough, but part of me knows that they are thrown in to cover for a lack of depth. Spun focuses so much on the drug that we lose site of the characters, and the story. While there's a lot to the movie that doesn't really work, there is as much that does. It's interesting, but pointless, it never suggests a real problem, and so never offers up a solution. Now I'm supposed to say "it's a lot like life" but I won't.

Technically is where Spun really shines. The cinematography by Eric Broms is excellent and the sound editing is reminiscent of Darren Aronofsky's amazing drug interludes in Pi and Requiem For A Dream. While Arronofsky is still doing it best in my mind they do a great job here. There are some very cool, well edited, and nicely mixed animation sequences as well. These things all help Spun to be the fresh, original work that it is.

The Ratings

Four Cameos by a Cheshire Cat
(the Cheshire cat being the coolest cameo is history)

First there's Debbie Harry as Ross' lezzy neighbor, and there's Mickey Rourke as the cook of all things tweaky. But keep your eye wide for Alexis Arquette, porn sensation Ron Jeremy, pumpkin killer Billie Corgan. Of them all, however, Eric Roberts has the best, hands down.

Three handcuffs for kink

For some reason Santos and Vero decided to throw in a girl bound and gagged on a bed for the entire movie. Wonder what they were on when they wrote that, eh?

Two and a half strung out tweaker hipsters methodically
cleaning their one bedroom apartment with a toothbrush

As you watch Spun, the novelty of the visuals and the characters and the scene will wear off kind of quickly, and below the surface this movie is somewhat lacking. It's still a good movie, but with a more cohesive story, and deeper characters, it could have been great. Possibly the best part is that when you walk out of the theatre, you really will feel like you're tweaking.

--B.C. Edwards
[email protected]


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[email protected] | March 2003 | Issue 36
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