Bang us Feedback: bang isaac
bang seth

the daily bang | movies that bang | music that bangs |forwards that bang | kosher top 10 | apartments that bang | home


Movies that bang
by Jordan Hiller







SPUN (2003)

Screenwriter Will De Los Santos could just as easily have left us twitching in confusion-- lingering pathetically like a doomed insect -- vibrating anxiously to a slow death on sticky yellow fly paper, but only minutes before he turns out the bleached lights on Spun, he gives us a glimpse into the soul of a speed junkie. He knows the soul well. It’s his own.

The revelatory scene represents a common practice for the film about a youngish crowd of losers hooked on a drug commonly known as crystal meth. In it, The Cook (the drug manufacturer - hence the name - and played by Mickey Rourke who surprisingly does some acting) reveals to his downward spiraling assistant and our protagonist, Ross (Jason Schwartzman doing something reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate), a memory from his childhood. Ross is of course asleep.

His mother found some puppies that he had brought into the house and as she was drowning them she looked over to the boy, full of potential, and said, “I wish I could do this to you.” BANG. There you have the makings of a junkie.

Sitting in the theatre, I said to myself, “Finally, now I can understand why the characters I have been watching ravage their bodies and brains with a chemical slop that constipates, manipulates, sterilizes, and victimizes them to the point where it becomes difficult to recognize a human being under the scabbed, oily skin and lightless eyes.” They have given up on actual life - whether from a crisis within the context of their own lives or simply because they are diseased emotionally, spiritually, or mentally, and this is the alternative reality they have chosen.

The scene represents an anomaly in the making of Spun that prevents it from accomplishing something that was within its grasp – it could have been a great movie, perhaps even one of the greatest “drug” films of all time. The scene is touching and introspective, as are many moments, particularly those involving Ross and his ex-girlfriend whom he romantically obsesses over, regardless of his obvious unfitness to be anyone’s companion in his state. The problem comes when the film switches gears abruptly. The movie suddenly enters into a madcap universe where comic police officers will snort up before busting an obese woman and her son for drugs, while the woman watches the events of her arrest unfold on the television as the cops are stars of a reality television crime show. It’s an amusing absurdity, but why here? Why now?

Spun does not know what to make of itself. It appears as though visually talented director Jonas Akerlund (famous at the present for making Madonna videos) was only sure of a few things when the cameras rolled – things are gonna be grotesquely ugly (Spun makes Requiem for a Dream look Hollywood), hideously loud, and frenetically choppy. I asked Jason Schwartzman why some characters were blithering caricatures while he and a few other of his cast-mates conveyed real depth in truly poignant depictions of a corrupt, broken sub-culture. He said he didn’t know. That’s Akerlund’s vision.

It’s a shame.

The film is almost like William S. Burroughs’ classic oddity which some consider a masterpiece, Naked Lunch. The book is neither good nor bad – it is. The words in the book are poetic like the smell of sewage is poetic. Strong. Rich. Pungent. Nasty. Raw. Powerful. All madly arranged in one ambivalent, entirely creative work that attempts not only to convey a feeling, but a sense of experience. Akerlund wants us to tweak (float on a methamphetamine high) without inhaling a single grain of the poison powder, and this is his gift. He takes us to a repulsive dimension where the term “underbelly” doesn’t even nauseate appropriately.

Therefore, it is difficult to gage the film in terms of the typical “was the film a pleasant, meaningful viewing experience” scale of worthiness. The material is so bleak and corrosive that it is impossible to enjoy the film – but no one dares expect you to.

Jason Scwhartzman and Mena Suvari both insisted that film carries an anti-drug message and they are correct. Speed is not glorified by Spun, it is demonized. “Drugs are boring”, Schwartzman said, and his character does nothing but fade farther and farther into the clutches of vile depravity as the film progresses. Along his tour through an unfortunately existent hell on earth, he encounters the likes of frantic dealer Spider Mike (John Leguizamo entirely committed) and lost soul Nikki (Brittany Murphy), among other clown zombies itching to get a fix. While characters buzz in and out of the lives of junkies, it is hard to tell what the connection is between each person beyond the beloved drug and the unspoken misery of being addicted to it. It appears as though freakish bonds are forged and apathetic love is exchanged but, as the movie depicts, a friend would just as soon cradle your frail body in comfort as shoot you in the testicles. Why? Because a junkie has only one true friend and The Cook supplies it.

Q & A with Jason Schwartzman
(who is damn cool – I am a fan for life – I will never see Slackers though)

Q: What’s it like going out with a Jewish girl? Schwartzman is dating actress Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde) who has a Hebrew School background.

A: (After some reluctance to speak at all about his personal life) ….I don’t know….It’s great….It’s nice to be with someone who appreciates you.

I wasn’t getting anywhere on the Jewish angle. See how I embarrass myself for you people! Luckily another writer at the table jumped in.

Q: Did you ever have matzoh ball soup?

A: Fuck Yeah!!! Actually, that was my ritual after playing a gig (Schwartzman is the drummer for the rock band Phantom Planet). I would go get a bowl of matzoh ball soup and a frozen banana.

Bingo!

I couldn’t dig up a Jewish question for Suvari, but I will say that her eyes are large and blue like great, alien oceans. Her teeth rest confidently in their whiteness. She walks on two sticks and has sticks for arms. Her hair is yellow like the wax from a Chanukah candle…melting. In response to a question of mine she told me she doesn’t consider herself “attractive”. I’ll do better next time.

----------------------------------------------------

Send comments to bangitout.com movie editor, Jordan Hiller: jtrick1@aol.com | bangitout.com

Reviews by Jordan Hiller

Trembling Before G-d

Girlhood

Veronica Guerin

Pieces of April

Wonderland

Bubba Ho-tep

Casa De Los Babys

Dummy

American Splendor

Gigli

The Holy Land

Return from India

The Shape of Things

City of Ghosts

Anger Management

Levity

The Guys

Assassination Tango

Gaudi Afternoon

Spun

Nowhere in Africa

Foreign Sister

Spider

Relentless

L’chayim, Comrade Stalin
part 1

part 2

Chicago

Divine Intervention

The Pianist

Best films of 2002 1992

8 mile


Punch Drunk Love


Signs


Gaza Strip

The Kid Stays in the Picture

MIB II

Minority Report

Insomnia

Spider-Man

Spring Movie Preview 2002

Panic Room

The Oscar Preview 2002

Royal Tenenbaums

Harry Potter

The Man who Wasn't There

From Hell

Training Day

Hearts in Atlantis

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

the others

Planet of the apes

Jurassic Park III

A.I.

Shrek & Atlantis

The Mummy Returns

Enemy At the Gates

Heartbreakers

Exit Wounds

15 Minutes

You Can Count on Me

The Mexican

Down to Earth

Meet the Parents

EXTRA! THEATER THAT BANGS:
Golda's Balcony HERE

SPECIAL EDITION:
Tribeca FIlm Festival 2003

Daily Coverage: HERE

Photo Gallery HERE


Film Reviews:

A Breach in the Wall

Every Child is Born a Poet: The Life and Work of Piri Thomas

Paper Chasers


Resisting Paradise


MC5: A True Testimonial


Sweet Sixteen


The Shape of Things


Yossi and Jagger


Persona Non Grata



the daily bang | forwards that bang | movies that bang | music that bangs | books the bang |
bang the rabbi | torah that bangs | rave reviews
apartments that bang | event guide | Kosher Top 10

submit an article | bang isaac | bang seth | slut gear | mom

Copyright © 2001 bangitout.com, Inc. All rights reserved