'Spun' Review - Meth, Insomnia and MTV Aesthetic

Updated on January 21, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie survival movies, but I love classics and various cult pieces too.

At first glance, Spun seems to not have much to offer. This looks like another film about drugs, set in the sunny West Coast of the United States, full of decadent and chaotic characters that are victims of their addiction.

The negative feeling has valid arguments. It's evident that Spun tries too much to be an Uber version of Requiem for a Dream, to the point of using several of its visual cues (pupils dilating after a hit, for example) and surpassing the number of shots used in editing. Spun has more than 5000 shots, a record that far exceeded the number of shots of Requiem for a Dream (that easily had the previous record). It's as if someone had been literally counting the shots (there are some that absurdly last up to just two frames) just to claim a non-existent prize. It's easy to picture the editor screaming "In your face Aronofsky!" as nobody else cared.

However, if there really is a genre called "drug cinema" (which, according to a review of the time, it does exist), Spun would undoubtedly be one of its masterpieces. Overall, in art, there is not really a cultural crime in wanting to emulate another great movie.

And Spun, honestly, is a blast.

Spun is the debut of director Jonas Akerlund. However, we are talking about a veteran director who by that time had already dozens of wonderful iconic music videos under his belt, with fantastic artists like Paul McCartney, U2, Roxette, Smashing Pumpkins, Madonna, Iggy Pop, Metallica and The Prodigy.

And that background, evidently, is noticeable in the way the film is narrated, directed and edited. Akerlund takes advantage of his expertise by placing shots and filling the story with visual glitches, uncomfortable close-ups, odd angles and cool transitions to show the instability of a junkie's life, eager to get to the next score.

The original script of William De Los Santos is based on three days of his own life, in which he served as a driver of a methamphetamine cook. For two years, he "hunted" Akerlund, script in hand. When the director finally stopped ignoring him, he realized the potential of the story.

Because yes, Spun does have something to offer.

"Spun" is the slang used by junkies when they have several sleepless days due to the use of methamphetamines. And that's precisely the motif of the movie. It's a look at a bunch of days (three, maybe four) in the life of a series of insomnious junkie characters. The time in Spun does happen, but we don’t exactly know how many days will pass. The characters seemed to perpetually be under the blinding and uncomfortable sunlight. There is no rest or peace of the stillness of the night.

We don't know much about the characters. They are stuck in this sleepless time, and that works. Ross (Jason Schwartzman) is our protagonist, an apparent boy who was "normal" until he couldn't deal with a love breakup a year ago. He wears a worn college jacket--further reinforcing the abandoned alternative life--, has a rapey tendency to leave strippers tied for days in his decadent room and, of course, a strong addiction to meth.

Spider Mike (John Leguizamo) is his dealer. Paranoid and frantic, he lives in a crack house with his girlfriend Cookie (Mena Suvari). Other frequent visitors to the place include Frisbee (Patrick Fugit) and Nikki (Brittany Murphy), who is the girlfriend of a character simply called "The Cook" (Mickey Rourke), who is in charge of creating drugs in his improvised meth labs.

Something that stands out greatly is the amazing character design, reinforced by the fantastic performance of the cast. From the initial credits, you can perceive the careful treatment of the characters, with each of them having a different graphic style and font for their names.

What's Your Rating For Spun?

See results

The universe seems drawn from a comic, with even cops characters called “Mullet Cop” (Peter Stormare) and “Mustache Cop” (Alexis Arquette). Debbie Harry plays a badass lesbian feminist, who makes a living using her voice in a hotline. Rob Halford, Billy Corgan, Ron Jeremy also make weird cameos.

The direction of Akerlund is a visual candy of the American white decadence. "The Cook" is a kind of modern cowboy, cooking the end of hope for addicts. The hardcore wrestling and heavy metal dress all actions, as musical and sports exponents of this sub-culture.

No character has control of its own destiny, and in that sense, Spun is a great narrative about drug addiction. Ross fails in his attempt to reunite with his ex-girlfriend. Frisbee ends hospitalized. Spider Mike and Cookie end up in jail.

But just at the exact moment when The Cook is slow-mo-blown to pieces by a lab meth going wrong, all the characters finally manage to fall asleep, finally leaving their "Spun" state.

Maybe some will manage to awake to a new life. Most will probably have just recharged batteries to restart the decaying cycle.

Movie Details

Title: Spun

Release Year: 2002

Director(s): Jonas Åkerlund

Actors: Jason Schwartzman, Mickey Rourke, Brittany Murphy a.o.

4 stars for Spun

© 2019 Sam Shepards

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Stanley Johnston profile image

      Stan Johnston 

      4 weeks ago from Canada

      I love Trainspotting.

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      4 weeks ago from Europe

      Hi,

      Thank you for your comment. I do prefer some movies like trainspotting over this drug / addiction movies from that era.

      When I was younger I did think the 90's and early 2000's was a bad time for movies, but compared to most movies and remakes now it seems to be the better ratio good / bad / boring compared to now in the superhero times....

    • Stanley Johnston profile image

      Stan Johnston 

      4 weeks ago from Canada

      It was on Canadian Netflix for quite some time but isn't now. Should have watched it. Recently have experienced a renewed interest of films from the late 90's, early 2000's.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)