73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2006
So, most people have never experienced anything close to the heavy drug use depicted in this film.
At first glance, Spun is exceedingly obscene and pornographic, and the editing is enough to make anyone dizzy. However, not only does it excellently depict the drug sensations, the movie has a moral as well. I fully believe that the lack of character development and plot (according to numerous critics) is intentional -- drug abuse doesn't just suddenly get a happy ending, nor does it have any essential purpose beyond the feelings of the drugs.
And in the end, that's what this movie delivers: the experience of a pointless week-long meth binge, and a glimpse at the kind of life few of us would believe exists. Imagine the events of Spun expanded into a year, many years -- people actually live this way, losing days like drops in a bucket of water, doing what they can to get the next high. Extremely important things are simply forgotten, drama explodes as the drugs twist emotions..
There are so many elements of this movie that are thought-provoking, when you get past the layers of grime and tweak editing. A great many people won't care to get past the surface, and understandably so.. You might have seen this kind of depravity in the first half of A Clockwork Orange, but never presented in such a visceral way. Beneath the surface is a silent cautionary tale -- everything from constantly blinking Fasten Seatbelts lights to Ross taking another bump as you cringe "again??" and prepare for another sensory assault..
If this film takes you nowhere, perhaps that is exactly the point.
Love the presentation, 5 stars =)
68 of 81 people found the following review helpful
A wide-awakeup call, in fact. About five days worth. That's the amount of 24 hour cycles, Ross, the central character spins through in this relentless movie. Yes, this film is derivative. Shades of Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (the animation sequences, especially), David Lynch's Lost Highway (a repeated shot of the dark, empty highway ahead, illuminated only by the car's headlights), D.J. Caruso's The Salton Sea (also about tweakers, with Mickey Rourke here substituting for Vincent D'Onofrio as Mr. Space Cowboy, menace 2 society, honkeytonk hairtrigger), and Darren Aranofsky's cutting-edge, Requiem for a Dream (similar downward spiralling of characters and not too dissimilar an ending).
So why the five stars, you ask? Because this film, while borrowing heavily from its sources, is still entirely original and innovative. Swedish born director, Jonas Akerlund has taken his music video sensibility and "tweaked" it to an extreme, combining visual and aural sensations in entirely novel ways. The camera work must be seen to be believed. Reviewers who denigrate the script are missing the point. This movie is about the camera. This is not herky-jerky, cinema verite, hand held camera work we're talking about here. This is carefully story-boarded, minutely crafted creativity at play. There are shots that could only have occured to a director who is either as crazy as his characters are (or as drug addled) or to someone possessing something along the lines of cinematic genius. Maybe it's a combination of all these. As this is Akerlund's first foray into feature films, I guess we'll just have to wait for his next movie (Lords of Dogtown, in pre-production) to decide. Don't worry yourselves about from whom, or from what, Akerlund is borrowing. Real artists worth their salt openly acknowledge that they're only building on the works of those who have come before them. I have a sneaking suspicion that Akerlund might be an artist to reckon with in the future.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2006
There are dozens of Don't Do Drugs flicks that feel like after-school specials, with their sluggish morals and predictable endings. Well, I can say that the ending of this movie was predictable, but the build-up to it, the acting and the finesse with which the special effects were implemented (voices going in and out of focus, characters in fast forward, teeth grinding) had me SPUN from beginning to end.
Though Brittany Murphy gets most of the cover, the story is really about Ross (Jason Schwartzmann), a part of a screwed-up extended family that are all hooked on methamphetamines, including secondhand dealer Spider Mike (John Leguizamo), spaced-out game geek Frisbee (Patrick Fugit), and others. When Ross meets Nikki (Murphy), he gets hooked up to the real deal: a man that calls himself the Cook, who wears boots with spurs and a cowboy hat and spits, fights, and tweaks like a man. The movie, for the most part, follows Ross's exploits as he becomes the Cook's errand boy, ferrying Nikki around in exploits like taking her dog to the vet (who has turned green from too much inhalation), and otherwise taking the Cook out to score, buy beer and porn, etc.
The best part about this movie is the dead-on behavior of the junkies. They hug and kiss you, they reassure you with pretty lies, they make you feel right at home - but the second they're short on drugs, or you say the wrong thing to them, they scream and throw things around. The next day you're friends again until the next fight, which is never very far off. And though you are led to believe through the whole movie that the Cook is the head cheese, it is interesting (and accurate) to discover that he is reporting to someone even bigger. And yuck, is the personal hygiene right on the nose for these characters - their teeth are gritty, their clothes dirty and raggedy, and through the few days we follow them it doesn't appear that any one of them ever takes a shower. All they want - no, need - is their next fix.
The part that sold me from the beginning was the words that came onscreen as the film started up:
BASED ON TRUTH
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
'Spun' follows the lives of several methamphetamine addicts through their wasted, roller coaster days, but this is not your ordinary 'drug' film. The ambience and atmosphere is so in-tuned with this degenerated culture that you can smell the illegal drugs cooking. Giving the plot away would be moot, since it is a portrayal of everyday life for people of this particular scene.
So, what separates 'Spun' from the rest of the drug flicks? Gritty realism, hilariously bizarre scenes, atmosphere, some great acting, and a complete lack of fear on the part of the creator and the director to dive into the nastiest of behaviors and expose them as pathetic and comical.
The sets are what you will see in real life meth houses. The dress and behavior of the characters is very realistic. My only real problem with the movie is that some of the jerk/flash camera work gets a little annoying, but still serves its purpose of bringing the "tweak" to the screen.
Interspersed in the film are some ridiculous cartoon scenes that are a riot, and two cops that parody TV shows like "Cops" and "Bounty Hunters", along with flash stills and hilarious action music. I am going to be haunted forever by the Spider Mike (John Leguizamo) scene where he is jumping up and down on the bed with a sock on his unit while abusing himself. You'll see what I mean, Leguizamo is brilliant in his role.
Mickey Rourke has proven himself to be quite an actor, a chameleon who can adapt to any role. In 'Spun', he plays The Cook, a nasty loosing white trash cowboy type who cooks the dope for the gang. Watch for Ross's (Jason Schwartzman) hallucination of The Cook's all-American speech in the video store. "Ask not what the kitty can do for you (substitute the 'P' word for kitty), but what you can do for the kitty."
Look for a surprising performance from Brittany Murphy (Just Married, Sin City) as Nikki. The more I see of Brittany's work, the more I like her as an actress. Eric Roberts (playing The Man) may have had one bad role after another, but his part in 'Spun' is perfect for him and very well done. The Man, with his earring and his muscle boys and his overdone lisp was too funny to watch. Roberts worked with Rourke in 'The Pope Of Greenwich Village' back in the early 80's, and its plain that they still mesh as actors.
Watch for Debra Harry (80's group Blondie) as Ross's nosy neighbor, and Ron Jeremy, the king of p*rn, as the bartender in the strip club. All in all, 'Spun' is a movie with a serious twist that will leave you laughing in the wake of the character's bizarre activities. This is one of the best drug/bad behavior movies I have watched, right up there with 'Requiem For A Dream' and 'Kids'. Truly, a must-see movie. Enjoy!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2009
"Spun" is a great portrayal of what life can be like while consuming massive amounts of methamphetamine. The movie takes place in several grungy and grimy sets, mainly people's homes. The movie not only glorifies the fun aspects of speed, but it also shows the downside (which most addicts will tell you there are plenty of). The main character, Ross, is an addict getting progressively worse off on the drugs by meeting and driving around a "cook", played masterfully by Mickey Rourke. The film is stylishly directed, the acting is good, and the story is the closest representation to meth life I've ever seen, despite the fact that the entire story is fictional and comic fantasy. "Spun" also features awesome new music by Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins and Zwan. The music really fits in well with the film. I recommend this film for anyone who is familiar with meth use, otherwise, the movie may sort of go over a non-user's head. The Unrated Version is the ONLY way to go. DO NOT BUY THE R-Rated version. There are many crucial scenes either missing or censored. In the end, "Spun" is a great movie with good emotional ups and downs. Check it out.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2005
All I can say about this movie is it will definitely keep you awake and on the edge of your seat. (Think GO with a bunch of real drugs) The characters were a great mix and showed a rougher side to the female actors. I especially liked the raw way everyone was portrayed and nothing was out of bounds for this film. This was another example of a decent story line with the actors making it fun and edgy. If you don't like cussing and drugs, stay away. This film is definitely NOT a chick flick. It is for the serious film watcher who enjoys dark drama/comedy.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2005
This is a film that centers around 5 meth addicts. Ross(Jason Shwartzman), Nikki(Brittny Murphy), Cookie(Mena Suvari), Spider Mike(John Legizimo), and Frisbee(Patrick Fugit). It centers mainly around Ross and Nikki and The Cook(Mikey Rouke) in which The Cook has Ross do jobs for him and he drives him around town in exchange for Meth. Ross has been up on Meth for days and days. Then, all somehow everybody's whole lives go spinning down the drain, as one by one of them have some key event that signals the beginning of the end for them.
This film wears its influences on its sleeves. I was noticing hints of Lost Highway(The long road with only headlights to light it up), The animation sequences from Natural Born Killers, and the downfall of all the characters lives and the ending from Requiem For A Dream. Some people have written reviews saying that this movie is a Requiem For A Dream rip-off. When in retrospect, that is only part of the plot. The film has a highly original way of telling the story, and Jonas Åkerlund provides his music video experience, which sucessfully gels with the pace, tone, and feel of the movie. The movie was fast paced, head-spinning, weird, quirky, and random. The cast was maginificant, Jason Schwartzman was great as Ross, he really got the part down, and did a solid performance. Brittany Murphy as Nikki was solid, too. Although, I don't like some of the movies that she was in. She really took this part and made it shine. John Lezigumo's performance was outstanding in the short amount of time that he had on screen. Same thing goes to Mena Suvari. Patrick Fugit was disapponting, mainly because nothing really big happend to his character towards the end. Mickey Rourke as The Cook was brillant, because The Cook was cool, and Mickey Rourke is cool.
This film was a great one. It is a masterpiece of the drug cinema, and can solidly put itself among some of the best movies.
I liked it and had a great plesure watching this enjoyable film.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2004
"Spun" follows the three days of one name "Ross" (Jason Schwartzman) who always needs some chemical substance, and has no will of his own. But "Spun" is free from violence, typical image associated with this kind of anti-hero; instead, it features the incredibly explicit sexual matters that would either disgust or enetrtain you, and a very realistic portrait of the guy who is leading an aimless life.
And like his aimless life, "Spun" at first seems going on without particular sense of story. But to be fair, it has several funny moments, mainly coming from Leguizamo and Rourke, both something to do with sexual things. In fact, the film gets better as it goes on, especially after the plot about the police and its documentary is introduced. The police raid scene shot in the mock police docu-style is not to be missed.
The film virtually about Ross, who works for a drug dealer (and maker) "The Cook" played by Mickey Rourke. Around them you see many strange people, some on drug, all seemingly unemployed but do not care about it. They all have some unique personality, as the unique cast represent -- see the following list as ...
John Leguizamo as "Spider" in leather pants; Mena Suvari as "Cookie," his love (with one scene that could be career killing in bathroom); Britney Murphey as "Nikki" living with "The Cook" (and she really loves her green-painted dog); Patrick Fugit as incredibly gross-out "Frisbee" directly coming from the "Pink Flanmingo" family; Deborah Harry as "Lesbian Neighbor" and Eric Roberts as "The Man"
Also, you see the faces like Larry Drake, Charlotte Ayanna, Peter Stormare and Alexis Arquette, the last two being "The Cops."
Swedish director Jonas Akerlund, famous for his numerous music videos, brings all of his techniques into this film, in which few things happen. Overflowing light and slanted camera angles with a fast cutting work at first, but gradually get tedious. Still, the music is good, handled by Billy Corgan (himself briefly seen as "The Doctor").
Quite unusual film, even including animation sections, "Spun" is so good at showing the aimless life of junkies that you might hate it because of the honesty. But the fact remains that some of the parts are truly hilarious, and Mickey Rourke (and his biceps) is quite impressive.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2004
Spun is the trials and tribulations, the successes and failures, (more failures) of an interesting group of loosely tied together meth users operating in urbanized America.
Its quite a peanut gallery of characters. You have the cowboy pornaholic drug producer, the wacky offbeat absent minded distributor, and their customers. They feature a bumbling acne ridden video gamer, a lost stripper, a gum chewing rotten toothed girlfriend, and a former straight edged society darling college dropout, who ties the characters together with the luxury that is an automobile.
What develops is a few days of life on meth. Characters each go through their highs and lows, and all hope to make the best of their current situations. The stripper, Nikki, and the college guy, Ross, seem to have more realistic short term goals they are striving for, as well, like Nikki seeing her child and Ross giving it another try with his old girlfriend.
As shown with the brilliantly made films Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream, youre not going to have much success in life staying on drugs. Your health can decrease, friends come and go, meth labs have a tendency to be flammable, and you might get caught, even if the cops themselves are two druggies out to bust folks for publicity.
You can probably imagine what happens to our good ol group here.
Now, with that said, at the conclusion of the film, I still wasnt sure what I was expected to think. After seeing Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream, I figured Id have a powerful, moving film about the dangers of drugs. I did, but I didnt feel much compassion towards the characters.
Then again, I dont think I was supposed to. The film seemed more of a stylish "night on the town with meth" episode, complete with the dizzy moments, silent spells, and hallucinations, as well as plenty of shady characters and severe time lapses. The end offered an attempt to be sentimental, but it really didnt work too well. A lot of things I found humorous, very satirical, and just plain odd. The acting wasnt bad, nothing special, but nothing to grind your teeth over either. John Leguizamo as Spider was probably my favorite performace, as he was uncontrollably buzzing like a mosquito lamp hanging near a swamp at dusk. I hadnt seen Mickey Rourke in years so that was welcome, too. Some cool and amusing cameos were present, as well, like Deborah Harry, Eric Roberts, and Billy Corgan.
Speaking of Billy Corgan, I hear some were turned off by his moody, acoustic soundtrack pieces, but I for one thought they were incredible. Id have to say the music is one of the best features of the film, and were a perfect hazy compliment to Ross's driving while high.
I think Requiem for a Dream is a far superior film in nearly every aspect over Spun, but now that I realize this film was more or less an oddly humorous angle of the same subject, I found it worth my time.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2007
A lot of the criticism I've read about this movie has to do with the editing. To which I say: did all those jump cuts make you jumpy? Well, that's probably the point - to try and propel you the viewer into the confused and addled mindset of a fiending meth junkie. MY only problem is - once that point is made, the rest of the movie is kind of pointless (although, maybe the other point was to make a movie that's as much of a mess as the characters it represents. And while that wouldn't exactly be a propitious goal, at least it's a goal that they reached).
Granted, some of the skittish shots are beautifully composed - clearly it was a labor of (unrequited?) love to assemble so many artful shots only to run rampant with the jump cut Ginsu knife. And the opening title sequence is gorgeous. I could have watched it forever (which is both good and bad, since what I'm ultimately saying is this movie would have worked better as a music video).
It's a fine line (and one of the only ones that doesn't get snorted in the film), but sometimes a movie's style can get in the way of its substance. And, in the worst cases, sometimes its style serves to mask a lack of substance. This film suffers symptoms from both of these syndromes. I appreciate its aim, but for me the target was never quite hit.
The "comic" moments aren't that funny and the serious moments are undermined by the previous attempts at comedy. The acting is a bit forced and tone-deaf at times (Mena Suvari is surprisingly stilted and just can't seem to be convincingly hyperactive, but Brittany Murphy is actually really good).
The writing is subpar - there are no truly memorable lines that stuck in my mind (for which these kinds of movies are usually reliable). Plot? Not really. Guy drives around, leaves a girl in bed, tries to call his girlfriend. Which would be fine, if the movie was a slice of life or a character study, but this doesn't really feel like much of either.
Most of the celebrity cameos (Rob Halford of Judas Priest, Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Ron Jeremy of porn) are distracting and kind of useless (still, I can't bring myself to type anything mean about Debbie Harry, so I won't).
And by the time Mickey Rourke gets around to telling his "old dog" tale to a sleeping Jason Schwartzman, I'm practically comatose myself. So when the movie finally reaches its supposedly explosive climax, I'm numb. I'm spent. I'm spun. I'm done. Again, maybe that's the point. But it ain't no fun.
I'd like to give this movie 2.5 stars, but since I have to round up or down, I'll give it credit for being ambitious in what it's trying to do (as well as being so visually intoxicating) and round up to three.