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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Spun (Rated Version)
Spun (Rated Version)
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // July 22, 2003
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted July 17, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

"Spun" seems like less an actual movie than a demo reel for director Jonas Ã…kerlund that somehow found its way into theaters. The film, filled to the brim with various editing tricks, odd angles and other speeded-up visuals, seems more concerned with creating an odd, fried look than with little things like story or characters. The film is hyper-active and obnoxious, but there's an experimental, unpredictable nature about it that makes it at least a curiosity for a little while. After that, it's everyone for themselves, as the movie just becomes too much of a leap into the frenzied, empty lives of these speed addicts, portrayed decently by a young actors getting dirtied-up for a couple months.

The film stars Jason Schwartzman (of "Rushmore" fame) as Ross, a dropout who spends his days getting high on meth. One day, he meets up with speed dealer The Cook (Mickey Rourke) and his stripper girlfriend (Brittany Murphy). Both offer him a deal for driving them around. Ross is so involved with other things in his life that he forgets that he's left his stripper girlfriend tied to a bed for a few days. Nikki (Murphy) ends up taking her green-tinted dog to the vet. A couple of cops try to use an addict against the rest.

In other words, this isn't so much a story as a series of episodes - or, given the director's previous background - music videos. Ã…kerlund does show talent - this is an energetic film that has a strong - if overused - visual style. Billy Corgan's score and some stylish animation add a little texture and atmosphere to a frenzied movie. However, there's quite a few instances throughout the film where excessive style seems used to cover up the fact that, well, there's really not that much else going on - the movie doesn't have much in the way of momentum, character development or story - especially in comparison to other drug films, such as "Requiem for a Dream" or, even to a lesser degree, the more entertaining "Go". At 101 minutes, the lack of a story starts to make the pace and interest suffer.

Still, the performances are pretty decent. Murphy's cute and her laugh is delightful. Yet, she's able to go from 0-to-60 and turn dramatic at a moment's notice. Schwartzman's blandness works for the character. Mickey Rourke turns in a surprisingly effective performance as the Cook, despite the fact that there's little dialogue - it's all about pauses and tone. John Leguizamo often seems like he's on speed anyways, so the performance works. Peter Stormare is also amusing as a cop.

Overall though, "Spun" seems to think it's more groundbreaking than it really is. It's attempts to shock aren't too involving. The only thing that I really got out of the picture is that Ã…kerlund has a visual style that needs to be paired with a better screenplay. No matter how much rapid-fire editing one throws at the screen (Ã…kerlund is credited here as co-editor, too), it just doesn't cover up the fact that there's little story (after watching it, I thought it may have worked better, had it been a series of short stories, instead.) "Spun"'s few very good moments are its quietest - a scene where Ross bids Nikki farewell as she leaves on a bus is well-handled.

The film has been released on DVD in R and Unrated versions. I ended up with the "R" version, which is one of the odder things I've seen. Given the material, what's the need for an "R" release? Strangely, the "R" version censors some curse words, but leaves others unaltered. Some instances of nudity - both animated and real - are blurred, while others aren't.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Spun" is presented by Columbia/Tristar in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Despite the washed-out look and stylistic touches the picture often takes on, the image quality on this transfer remained quite good. Sharpness and detail were often superb; the picture offered strong definition and fine details were often visible. A couple of instances of softness appear, but the picture usually remained consistent.

A little bit of edge enhancement creeped into the picture at times, but, for the most part, the movie remained free of it. A little bit of dirt and grain showed up on the print used, too - although the grain may have been an intentional aspect of the photography, I doubt the few specks I spotted were. Pixelation was not spotted. Colors remained vivid and rich throughout, with no smearing or other faults.

SOUND: "Spun" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. While the film's audio is largely dialogue-driven, Billy Corgan's score has nice presence in the front mains. A few zippy sound effects make it into the rear speakers when the the addicts do speed. Audio quality seemed satisfactory.

EXTRAS: Trailers for "Spun", "Auto Focus" and "Levity". A few deleted scenes.

Final Thoughts: Brittany Murphy is wonderful and the director's feature debut shows some promise on a few occasions. However, the story is very thin, unoriginal and stars to drag on after a while. Columbia/Tristar's DVD edition provides good audio/video, along with a few supplements. I can't recommend the film, but those still interested might want to check it out as a rental.

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