Spun

on March 14, 2003 by Jon Alon Walz
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In a film that wields style, cinematography and editing like a sledgehammer, music video director Jonas Akerlund's dizzying “Spun” is an incomprehensible embarrassment of empty shock-value over storytelling and intelligent subtlety.

There is very little material covered here that has not already been pounded into the ground by Darren Aronofsky's “Requiem for a Dream,” Lili Zanuck's “Rush” and even Kubrick's “A Clockwork Orange.” Here, after being introduced to a group of tweaked-out speed-freaks already at the bottom of the barrel and treading in their own filth, we spend over 90 minutes spiraling downward even further, with every gory detail of the fall close-up and in sharp focus.

Opening in the San Fernando Valley druggie ghetto crash-pad of Spider Mike (John Leguizamo), “Spun” acquaints us with a motley group of characters portrayed by terrific young actors who figured that signing onto an “edgy” movie would be a wise career move: “American Beauty's” Mena Suvari is Spider Mike's girlfriend; “Almost Famous'” Patrick Fugit is a house crasher; “Rushmore's” Jason Schwartzman plays Ross, who does some runs for Spider Mike; and “8 Mile's” Brittany Murphy hangs at the house when she not stripping or having sex with her drug-manufacturing boyfriend Cook (Mickey Rourke in one of his better roles in ages).

The thin plot has to with Ross' various drug runs for Cook over a couple of sleepless and speed-propelled days. Out of his mind, he accidentally leaves a naked stripper chained, blindfolded and tied to his bed as his single half-hour delivery for Cook leads to a whole other world of errands and people to deal with for hours and days on end. After being asked to drive Cook's girlfriend around on day two, Ross falls in love with her and helps her leave town. Meanwhile, a pissed-off Cook manages to burn down his hotel-room-slash-meth-lab and finally opts to end it all.

Despite this backfire, director Jonas Akerlund may possibly be a director to watch. He has an amazing eye for visual candy and, with some restraint, he could one day be mentioned with the likes of Fincher, Jonze and Soderbergh. This film, however, is not worthwhile if you value cogent storytelling or the dinner you just ate. Starring Jason Schwartzman, John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, Patrick Fugit and Mickey Rourke. Directed by Jonas Akerlund. Written by Will De Los Santos and Creighton Vero. Produced by Chris Hanley, Fernando Sulichin, Timothy Wayne Peternel and Danny Vinik. A Newmarket release. Drama/Comedy. Rated R for pervasive drug content, strong sexuality, language and some violence. Running time: 96 min.

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