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Spun (2002)

Directed by Jonas Åkerlund Screenplay by Will De Los Santos & Creighton Vero

  A genre that I believe sadly gets overlooked at times is that of “Drug Cinema.” Now, there are some intense movies and things shown to make one cringe at the mere thought of. But it’s not as though they weren’t streamed from some facet of reality, most turn out to be some of the best films out there for that matter. Requiem for a Dream, Drugstore Cowboy, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, SLC Punk! and The Basketball Diaries all great examples. Spun was originally meant to be a documentary on methamphetamine dealers and such entitled The Cook. Both screenplay writers coming together to incorporate their own personal experiences with such and it turned into a 3 day screenplay based on Will De Los Santos’ life back in 1995 as he drove a “cook” around. Mixed with Creighton’s interviews and experience circa 1998. Jonas had been primarily used to creating music video’s and because of that background was able to pull in “lots of favors,” since they were only working with a 2.8 million budget. Which would equal about two of Jonas’ videos.

  The film was shot in 22 days and its original cut was a little over 3 hours. A friend of Jonas’ did the animation seen throughout for free and Billy Corgan agreed to do the music if given a role (Doctor cameo at end). The Director also mentioned that Mickey Rourke and John Leguizamo were the first ones to sign up and the rest of the star-studded cast kinda fell into play after. What I liked most about the film was the editing of which there were 5,345 cuts that came together for a masterful whirlwind paragon of drug culture and its effects, if only short-term.

  The film starts out saying it’s Based on the Truth…and Lies; Ross (Jason Schwartzman) drives up to a house, talking over the track naming the many alias of methamphetamine. Knocking as Nikki (Brittany Murphy) attempts to open the door but Spider Mike (Leguizamo) insisting that he would. Once inside he says hi Frisbee (Patrick Fugit) as a paranoid Spider explains having temporarily lost his batch and to just wait on the couch. The phone rings as Spider starts whining about being unable to pick up his own phone yet refusing to get on when told it was for him. Constant people keep approaching the house in an attempt to score (cameo by Josh Peck) when they’re joined by Cookie (Men Suvari) who wanted to know who was calling. Ignoring her question, the group is able to come up with the conclusion of Spider having dropped “the stuff” on the way back from Circus Liquors. Saying he’d be right back to go check. The Cook (Rourke) calls to check on the situation as Spider returns and tries to throw everyone out and only managing Frisbee. Cookie and Mike have a fight in the kitchen as she yells at him about losing it for the third time and storming to her room as she continued to yell through the walls. Meanwhile the Cook informed Nikki to have Ross take her back to his location and tell Spider to chill out.

  The Cook comes outside to speak with Ross and gives him a party favor for the ride, explaining he would call if they needed a ride. Of which Ross graciously agrees to. It’s about 13 minutes as the credit’s role to The Number of the Beast by Djali Zwan with a fun way of doing the names to show who everyone played. He arrives home as his neighbor (Deborah Harry) seems to be suspicious of him, spying as he makes his way to his place. He listens to his voicemail, one from his mother, the other his ex as he gets up to call her back with no response. Pulled directly into the strip club his other girlfriend April (Chloe Hunter) works at, she dances and we get the first glance at the “trippy” animation provided for the film. The two return back to his place for their raunchy sex scene that was actually the first thing they ever filmed on set. Getting a call from the Cook of a dire situation having occurred and needing his assistance. So he leaves April tied to the bed and saying he wouldn’t be gone long. And then puts duct tape over her mouth and eyes as a CD repeatedly skips at a loud volume. When he gets the motel, Cook informs Ross of taking  Nikki to the vet so that her dog Taco could “get better.” Though not exactly sure of what was even wrong. Ross makes  a quick call to Amy and leaves a message. Arriving at the vet to leave Taco for overnight and they head back.

  Back at Frisbee’s we witness the disgusting manner of which him and his mother partake on a daily basis. As drops by the Cook’s to hear of needing a ride to get more ingredients. Which they do at the corner store as Ross inquires to the longest time he had been up on the stuff. Eleven days or so; damn. Later at Liquor Market we see Angel (Nicholas Gonzalez) yelling at the 2 store clerks and slapping one as the Cook decides to step in. Leaving with a few less beers (having thrown his 6 pack at Angel) the two arrive at a porn shop (cameo by Rob Halford) where Rourke gives a hilarious speech on taking the pussy seriously with a patriotic feel. But finally decides on a movie as their next destination is the strip-club.

  Meanwhile back with Frisbee we see Mullet Cop (Peter Stormare) and Moustache Cop (Alexis Arquette) outside their trailer. With the ironic bliss that his mother was watching the show they’d soon be arrested on. At the strip club Ross tries to get a hold of Amy and calls April next to inform her of paying her back as soon as he could. Ross drops off the two and returns home to find an eviction notice and a surely upset April who begins screaming at him, catching the attention of Ross’s neighbor. The cook lays out a plan for him and Nikki that ends with him calling a service and requesting a girl to their room. Though at the police station the two cops interrogate Frisbee insisting that he “play the game” and help them out, promising to be on his side. The escort arrives to get the door slammed in her face as Ross is called up once again and asked for a ride as “shit has hit the fan.” Ross insisting to April of the only option being to keeping her tied up. When he arrives he gets more information on what exactly had happened with the added explanation being that she just couldn’t “handle her shit.” That she had been partying with the candy for about 11 days and had a tendency to take off and come back spun, but that it always passed.

  Back at Spider Mike’s the two return to drop off another delivery and both men retreat to the kitchen to inspect the batch. With both guys in the kitchen, the girls in the living room begin speaking as quick edits are integrated into the scene. Each party partaking in their guilty pleasures, showing a variation of methods in reaching their high as one of the best scenes is presented next, in my opinion. Keep in mind that as well the entire time they are several edits and cuts and additions to the scenes making them truly come to life including some great emotional music in the background. **This trailer was the best one I could find that showed the movie for what is was to be seen as**

  The motel that the Cook was staying at starts to “brew” up trouble, causing him to take off and finding solace within the same porn shop from before. Ross and Nikki get ready to leave Spider’s Frisbee arrives with a wire, explained to that everything would be fine. Inside Cookie takes a bathroom break as Spider gets upset at her breaking his “concentration,” calling a sex operator to finish the job for him. Locked out the bedroom, Cookie becomes angry as Frisbee’s knock at the door signifies her ability to get back at her inconsiderate boyfriend. Upon trying to seduce him however finds the wire and starts yelling for Michael to get out as he exits the bedroom with nothing on but a sock; and he wasn’t wearing it on either foot neither. Exposed, the two cops make their entrance 70’s style and bust through the doors as Frisbee gets shot in his testicles and they arrest the two. Spending the night in jail as the Cook soon followed close behind. But thanks to friends on the outside gets busted before the others. the

  Some more greatly integrated scenes as the two take a road trip ending in a somber mood and discussion of Ross having left April tied up for 3, no 4; he can’t remember, days. They get to his place to find her gone and it trashed as the phone rings with Cook asking for a ride. Nikki intervening to tell “poor baby to call a taxi” and hanging up. Immediately calling back to yell at Ross and telling him to drop her off at the bus station and then find him at the liquor store. Once about to say goodbye the two share a moment as they confide in liking the other even though they’re weren’t normal people. Ross calls Amy once again before going to the store to pick up Cook as he’s given details on Spider’s bust and they first stop in the city to visit The Man (Eric Roberts). His obvious attraction to Cook has him cheerfully handing new supplies and two wads of money, telling his minions of “that” being the definition of a real man. The Cook offers Ross six months worth of dope if just taking him where he needed to get; agreeing as long as they could stop to see Amy. No sight of her ends up nevertheless in tragedy as she takes her money and leaves asking to be called when he had the rest. Ross decides to crash out in the car as Cook tells a story of being about the age of 4 and his mother killing off a litter of 8 puppies. That their dog had them in the bathtub with the response of “just killing what she couldn’t take care of” and that she should have done the same to him. Retreating to a new “laboratory,” everything coming to rest with the days events as the city seems calm in their slumbers as embers are all but left.

Final Thoughts: As far as story goes, it’s pretty clear from the get that there is not so much a particular “plot” or reason for necessarily showing you what they are. The movie is also consistently moving at different paces, alternating most frequently between super fast for when they take “hits” or slowing it down to witness the trip is a different way that actually brought a lot to the scenes. The cast is obviously amazing but what’s more is that the Director gave no instruction/rehearsals or had any readings with the actors before their takes. He told them their character and trusted that they would each do their own things with that. Which is what is called for because the “story” is very forthright and it’s merely a small glimpse of what these people may or may not be going through ultimately. Listening to both commentaries, something I found interesting was how the screenplay writer had stated that when he did speed, it made him keep up with his thoughts; in which sense Spun seems to have been perfectly orchestrated. There wasn’t even per-say one ending, it just kind of ended on different notes for each character accordingly so. Not forgetting of course the hilarity, despite the matters of the addictions with these people being rather serious. Corgan’s music fitting perfectly with what was the final product.

  Murphy had done this the same year that 8 Mile came out and hadn’t been in anything too noteworthy since Girl, Interrupted. All the actors did a good job of “selling the product” but from a lot of prior or since role’s, one thing about her is that she’s very emotional and tends to bring that forth quite effortlessly. A great feature to bring to this movie. Fugit was hilarious in the feature. This was a couple of years after Almost Famous but he had given his character a lisp and he was the most “grungy” of his friends, which made him throughout the most difficult to watch because of how much he wouldn’t take care of himself. Mena had just come from her string of hit or misses and for the role had resin put on her teeth, needing them professionally cleaned after wrap to get off. Rourke and Leguizamo were great “big timers” to have; John already talking fast and being jittery as it is. Mickey being the bad-ass he’s usually predestined to be. Our leading man Jason being the glue that brought everything together. He came right off of Slackers, which if you haven’t seen him in you should. Any who, Jonas was able to use a lot of his connections to assist in not only a great directorial debut (for movies) but in raising the editing bar a bit I’d say. Either way it will certainly be something unseen in some sense or another.