Spun

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Spun

Cast:

Jonas Åkerlund made his reputation with an almost comically calculated video for The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" that took viewers on a subjective, first-person journey through an orgy of drugs, violence, sex, and all-around bad behavior, only to reveal that the video's unseen protagonist was (gasp!) a woman. That same spirit of self-conscious naughtiness infects Spun, Åkerlund's slick, empty feature-length directorial debut. A dark comedy about speed freaks that feels like it was directed and edited by someone in the midst of a methamphetamine jag, Spun strives desperately to outdo Requiem For A Dream's frenetic cutting and stylistic overkill, with headache-inducing results. Åkerlund himself co-edited the film, but all the overwrought stylistic tricks in the world–and he uses just about all of them–can't hide the cynical emptiness at its core. A cast-against-type Jason Schwartzman leads a promising, largely wasted cast as a baby-faced speed freak who quickly descends into the amoral, sensation-crazed universe of charismatic speed dealer Mickey Rourke and his flaky stripper girlfriend (Brittany Murphy). As in the similar but far superior The Rules Of Attraction, stunt casting abounds, with teen-movie fixture Mena Suvari and Almost Famous' Patrick Fugit turning in grunged-up, unflattering performances as speed freaks, and Eric Roberts (channeling Paul Lynde as an effeminate dealer), Debbie Harry, Ron Jeremy, and Rob Halford rounding out the cast on the grown-up end. Schwartzman conveys a battered innocence even while doing the most vile things; his has to be the most likable character ever to keep a stripper handcuffed to a bed for days on end. Murphy's radiant, loopy sweetness similarly manages to cut through the film's thick aura of self-satisfaction, and Rourke is surprisingly restrained in his best role in ages. Their efforts are largely for naught, however: Spun nominates itself for enshrinement in the cult pantheon, but its glib nihilism is likely to turn off even the least discriminating midnight moviegoer.

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