SPUN 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, with Jason Schwartzman, John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, Patrick Fugit, Peter Stormare, Alexis Arquette, Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke, Chloe Hunter and Eric Roberts. 96 minutes. A Mongrel release. Opens Friday (May 9). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 87. Rating: NNN
What are the new cult films? Where's the movie to lodge itself in the subcultural craw like Repo Man did, or Polyester? Who's eating poo these days? Jonas Akerlund's Spun wants that title. Wired, ragged and gleefully putrid, it pulls together an all-star indie cast and sends them slumming in a frenzy of speed addiction.
Jason Schwartzman plays a surprisingly low-key guy fiending for methamphetamine. That leads him to a circuit of dealers and fellow freaks including John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, Brittany Murphy and Mickey Rourke. Peter Stormare and Alexis Arquette play two cops, just to keep things interesting.
According to medical authorities, the effects of methamphetamine include intense paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations and out-of-control rages that can be coupled with extremely violent behaviour. It looks like Spun took those symptoms as a shooting script.
Akerlund lets his actors go full tilt. Leguziamo screams and kicks his way through the movie like he's fronting a thrash band. Suvari spits her lines through slimed teeth. Rourke mostly just stands around, but that's already over the top.
Akerlund is a Scandinavian with a taste for American trash. He directed the video for Madonna's Music and brings a similar jerky, speed-freak style to much of Spun. The only pauses are for Gummoesque tableaux like the shot of the sprawling, dimpled pudge of a trailer mom's belly.
Schwartzman is allowed little of the spiky charm he showed in Rushmore. His meth highs bring on sordid little animated hallucinations, including one rip-off of Almodóvar's sublime silent film in Talk To Her.
But is Spun a cult film? Gratuitous, disgusting and pointless, yes. Acted in a flat, declarative style that makes it feel like Gregg Araki's Drugstore Cowboy, certainly.
But Akerlund is too much the commercial craftsman to let Spun slop around like most cult films. It's put together with virtuoso editing that cuts rapidly within scenes and pops in bits of fantasy while still maintaining narrative coherence.
The style fits the fried-synapse characters and demands a mastery not just of digital editing but of scene structure.
It's the bourgeois giveaway.