Region 2 (UK) DVD
Jason Schwartzman, Mickey Rourke, John Leguizamo
A speed junkie spends a couple of days
with 'The Cook' and his low-life associates.
film about a bunch of junkies and the
people they associate with might not be everyone's idea of fun, especially
one like this, which apparently relishes wallowing in the squalor of their
methamphetamine-addled lives. However, Jonas Ǻkerlund's Spun is not quite as depressing as the film it draws
much stylistic inspiration from (Darren Aronofsky's Requiem For A Dream),
thanks to a quirky sense of humour, and some unrestrained and uninhibited
performances from its ensemble cast. Supporting roles for Peter Stormare,
Eric Roberts, Alexis Arquette and Darkman's Larry Drake, and cameo
appearances by the legendary Ron Jeremy, American History X director Tony Kaye
and The Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan (who also wrote the score) add to
Swedish wunderkind director Ǻkerlund has a
background in music video, and was responsible for The Prodigy's notorious
1997 Smack My Bitch Up video, (which was recently listed by Q
magazine as one of the twenty best music videos of all time). Ǻkerlund
claims that Spun, which runs for ninety-seven minutes, holds some
sort of record for the number of shots it contains: 5345.
film had a budget of about $2.8m, and was shot on 16mm film (with some
material, such as the C.O.P.S-style B.U.S.T sequences, shot
on digital video). The film was subsequently processed digitally, and then
bumped up to 35mm for theatrical presentation. Pathé's DVD, which is
presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, looks fine: better, in fact,
than most 16mm-sourced material you see. The picture has a particular
heightened-reality look, but this is conceptual. There's a tendency
towards detail being swallowed up in the darker areas of the picture, but
this, too, seems to be deliberate, or unavoidable. There's some grain, of
course, but that's also an inevitable reflection of its origins, rather
than a transfer flaw.
The transfer is virtually dirt-free, and
there are no apparent encoding artefacts. The average bit rate is
7.24Mb/s, rarely dipping below 6Mb/s. The layer change isn't ideally
placed, but is relatively unobtrusive. There are a couple of subtitles in
the film, and these appear as they would have been seen in the theatrical
prints (thankfully have not been replaced by player-generated subtitles).
English HoH subtitles are available for the film, but there are no
subtitles for the bonus materials or commentary tracks.
The film's audio, presented in Dolby
Digital 5.1 format (at 448kbps), matches the film's hyper-real style
wherever it's appropriate, with good use of the surrounds and
low-frequencies. Whether by error or by design, the audio that accompanies
some of the animated menu screens originates from the surround speakers,
to surreal effect.
The UK disc has a modest selection of bonus
features, enough to qualify it for Special Edition status, even though
it's not being promoted as such.
film is accompanied by two rambling commentary tracks. The first, by
Ǻkerlund and American Beauty actress Mena Suvari, is almost
completely disposable, but a lot of fun, if you're in the mood to
eavesdrop on two buddies who seem to be as stoned as the characters in the
film. The second, by Ǻkerlund and co-writer / co-producer Creighton Vero,
is of substantially more value. It doesn't go into much detail, but it
does outline some of the influences that shaped the film, and describes
some of the problems the filmmakers encountered during production. The
second track gives the listener a good idea of what it's like to make an
ultra-low budget film, and about how artistic decisions are constantly
affected by things like which music tracks the production are allowed to
use, or can afford.
There are two versions of the disc
available in the US: an R-Rated version, which does not include commentary
tracks, and an Unrated, Uncensored, Director's Cut version (which,
incidentally, appears to be the same cut of the film that was released
here). The American Unrated disc offers two commentary tracks, but
instead of the Ǻkerlund / Suvari pairing, they get one by Producer
Wayne Peternel and co-producer / co-writer Will De Los Santos.
There are five Deleted Scenes on the
UK disc, totalling about six minutes. These are presented in VHS-quality,
letterboxed format, with AVID-style editing timecode. These are:
Rescuing April (Ross's neighbour releases April, and they wreck his
room); Porn Shop (Ross and The Cook take drugs at the porn shop,
and Ross hallucinates about April and Nikki); I'm Gonna Die (an
extension to the B.U.S.T. scene, featuring Moustache Cop); Fat Boy
(the kid visits Spider Mike); and At The Liquor Store (the two
Liquor Market clerks find a packet of drugs outside the store). These seem
to tally with those on the US disc, except Rescuing April is titled
Trashed on the American disc.
trailers are also offered. The first is the especially-shot Cooking
Show trailer, which features Mickey Rourke (who plays The Cook). The
second is the UK theatrical trailer, which does a good job of capturing
the film's breathless pace, but perhaps gives undue emphasis to a romance
between two of the characters.
Poster Gallery - Pathé and Empire
Design held a competition among BA (Hons) Graphic Design students at
Central Saint Martin's College to come up with promotional posters or
campaign images for the film. This video presentation displays their often
very-creative efforts (5m).
MTV Premiere - two minutes of
sped-up highlights footage from the film's premiere, which was attended by
Deborah Harry and Mena Suvari, amongst others.
On Set Photo's - stills by Spun's
Director of Photography Eric Broms, set to music (2m).
The Unrated Region 1 disc features
the Cooking Show trailer, a theatrical trailer and a TV Spot, the
deleted scenes and a music video (Above The Candy Store, by Paola,
which isn't on the UK disc), but doesn't have the MTV Premiere
footage or the Poster Gallery. The UK and US versions both feature
two commentary tracks, but only one is common to both. Fans of the film
will have to buy both discs! Otherwise it would appear that the UK disc
clearly offers the better deal.