Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Spun (Jonas Åkerlund, 2002)

If you enjoy strip clubs, adult video shops, convenience stores, external pieces of Mena Suvari's well-earned excrement, and cooking speed in stuffy motel rooms, then have I got good news for you. An unclean sore on the over trafficked anus of modern society, this film is pure filth. If you don't once think about your own personal hygiene while watching Spun, the hyper-kinetic ode to methamphetamine and the humanitarians who abuse it, then you my friend are not an earth-born individual. Every character that populates this seedy world needs to desperately get themselves reacquainted with the squarish miracle that is soap. It was obvious to me early on that the director (a Swedish dude renowned for his music videos), has no idea how to make a conventional movie. And you know what? I couldn't be more happy. Filmmaker Jonas Åkerlund's incompetence as a storyteller actually elevated the proceedings and gave the film the disjointed, meandering quality it needed. I mean, the idea of watching a well-made, or worse, insightful, movie about drug addicts gives me the willies. No, what want to see is scenes involving wretched degradation and comical anguish all mixed together without any thought whatsoever put into things like, pacing and continuity. And Jonas delivers in that regard. Creating an atmosphere where every single action is heightened.

A sordid mishmash of lowlifes traversing the outskirts of some sunburnt refuse heap near Los Angeles, Spun is aimless film-making at its finest. One that basically focuses on a tweeker named Ross (a greasy-haired Jason Schwartzman) and his need to score meth on a regular basis. However, little things like, a battle with sleeplessness, running errands for a cowboy/chemist with a wrestling fixation, the big brown eyes of the cowboy/chemists' stripper girlfriend, keeping his own stripper girlfriend tied to his bed, and trying to reconnect with his non-stripper ex-girlfriend are obscuring his main goal; getting high.

The cast were all game when it came to looking absolutely awful. Whether it was excessive sweatiness, bad skin, or unwashed hair, each character brought their own unique brand of nastiness to the table.

A leathery Mickey Rourke commands the screen as The Cook, an aloof versifier who is tirelessly dedicated to his craft; a perennially shirtless John Leguizamo is flat-out disgusting as Spider Mike; Deborah Harry is a kindhearted yet firm lesbian phone-sex operator who helps the protagonist's current stripper girlfriend out of an unpleasant jam (a disturbing subplot that causes the audience to look at Schwartzman's character in a different light); Eric Roberts was outstanding as The Man (his feminine mannerisms and blonde Elvis wig were topnotch); and the gorgeous China Chow appears briefly an escort (I loved the way struggled to walk across the motel parking in those impractical hooker pumps).

I'd have to say that Mena Suvari looked the worst out of everyone in the cast as Cookie (which, I guess, is sort of a complement). Her baked bean teeth, contusion covered face, chapped lips, soiled pajama bottoms, and equally soiled sleep mask were nauseating. (It shouldn't be said, but I could watch her struggle make fecal matter for hours on end.)

When most of us think back to the heady days when we wore acid wash jeans, we think, "Wow, what was I thinking?" Nikki, on the other hand, wears them year in, year out without a hint of shame. Played brilliantly by the enchanting Brittany Murphy, Nikki is probably my favourite character because she is the most sympathetic. For one thing, she doesn't leave anyone tied to a bed for three days, nor does she shoot anyone in the testicles. However, when Nikki disagrees with you, prepare to have your ear area peppered with a creative mix of curse words and demasculinizing put downs.

Combining the sisterly sweetness of an overly caffeinated half-wit and the open-mindedness of a lesser known porno actress, Brittany Murphy is a skanky delight from start to finish. The hopeful nitty-gritty of this bleak head-trip of a movie, the tasty actress with the large eye sockets (her makeup looked like it had been applied by a paint-ball gun) made Spun mildly worthwhile in the end.



  1. My new internet time-waster:

    I put a Front 242 song on there for you!

  2. Thanks... AJ West. It's my fave version of the 242 classic (track has been remixed a million times).

    Wow, I've heard of most of these bands/artists. :D

    Yeah, hi, can you guys play the "Dog Police"?

    I've always been a fan of the way Mark King holds and plays his bass.

    One of the first videos I searched for on YouTube was "I Hate Milk" by Air Miami.

    "You don't give me love..." Cool song.

    Yikes, that's a lot of KOD. ;)

  3. I'm very surprised you've heard of Air Miami. I thought they were super-obscuro, and that only we radio station weirdos had the pleasure of enjoying their alterna-pop.

    Couldn't find "Dog Police" but while I was searching, I found Temple of the Dog's "Hunger Strike." So thanks.

    One can never had enough KOD. :)

    Oh, eat Eric Roberts. I may have said that the first time I read this review.

  4. Very surprised? I'm hip and stuff. :D

    Anyway, Much Music's The Wedge show played "I Hate Milk" once back in 1995. I still have it on tape.

    Eat Eric Roberts?!? Let me guess, another South Park reference? ;)