Cooking the books

Movie: Spun

Length: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Studio: Newmarket Films
Release Date: 2003-04-18
Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Patrick Fugit, Brittany Murphy, Mena Suvari, Crispin Glover
Director: Jonas Akerlund
Screenwriter: Creighton Vero, Will De Los Santos
WorkNameSort: Spun
Our Rating: 1.50

Music-video directors live and die by their "books" -- collections of other people's artwork, images and ideas that they pilfer, recombine and (when a clip's a hit) tend to call their own. So a vital part of the scant enjoyment offered by Jonas Akerlund's plotless feature-length speed-fiend ramble "Spun" is essentially a game of spotting the cop. The morbidly obese trailer-park white trash and pink flamingos are straight out of "Pink Flamingos," and the spazz edits and eye-pop shoot-up tricks are courtesy of "Requiem for a Dream." (Actually, there's a whole heap of Darren Aronofsky's last movie in this film.) And don't forget Eric Roberts (as a boy-loving queen) and Mickey Rourke (as a methedrine chemist called the Cook), together for the first time since 1984's "The Pope of Greenwich Village."

Shot in a grainy, color-drained manner similar to that other exemplar of indie filmmaking -- "Minority Report" -- "Spun" features Jason Schwartzman as a guy who does speed, handcuffs his stripper girlfriend and runs errands for the Cook, whose ex-stripper girlfriend, Nikki (Brittany Murphy), is a speed freak. Other people in the film who do speed but who are not strippers include Spider Mike (John Leguizamo), a scumbag dealer, and Cookie (Mena Suvari), a cranked nuisance battling constipation.

As a music-video director who has churned out spots for Madonna and the Prodigy, Akerlund knows a lot of rock stars in various stages of decline. So sparking additional passing interest are cameos by Judas Priest's Rob Halford (a leatherman porn dealer) and Deborah Harry (a dyke phone-sex worker still -- oh, the hilarity -- "Hanging on the Telephone"), plus an entire soundtrack of soulful acoustic numbers by ex-Smashing Pumpkins castrato Billy Corgan. But after the star recognition and freak-show appeal of a post-plastic surgery/sanity Rourke fades, "Spun" has little else to offer, aside from making the viewer semi-recant the lousy things he or she might have said about ("Gummo" and "Julien-Donkey Boy" filmmaker) Harmony Korine -- another, uh, influence here.

The film also includes mediocre animations (a must in these "24 Hour Party People" days) of crucifixions, strippers, vaginas, etc. Just as watching a person slowly popping a zit wouldn't be entirely uninteresting, "Spun" isn't without a certain noxious fascination. But it's really about nothing more than Akerlund's overaccessed book and his self-perceived hipness as a cool-ass reporter of a U.S. drug world that exists only in really bad films.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.