the speed trap

The Germans originally invented speed at the end of the 1800s with Japan synthesizing the easier to produce and more potent methamphetamine in the 1930s. Both countries found themselves amidst brutal, bloody wars a short time later, making poor tactical decisions and blabbering on about world dominance. Coincidence? I think not. Adopted widely by dictators, truckers, Warhol-era art factory vampires, and white trash constituents everywhere, crank has left an indelible, yucky mark on the post-modern manifestation of the human condition.

- The Salton Sea (2002)--While this movie smacks of Memento, it has enough moxie of its own to warrant a viewing. Val Kilmer turns in a believable performance as Danny Parker, a man seeking revenge for the murder of his wife. Vincent D'Onofrio lends his scene-stealing talents as the villainous speed dealer with a prosthetic rubber nose who reenacts the Kennedy assassination utilizing remote control cars, captive pigeons and live ammo. Tweakers are, if nothing else, desperately creative.

- Spun (2002)--Music video luminary and former drummer for Swedish death-metal legends Bathory, Jonas Akerlund directs this all-star insomniatic spin through the world of sleeplessness. Populated by Jason Schwartzman, Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo, and the vastly convincing Mickey Rourke (as "The Cook"), Spun delivers as promised; revealing a twisted paranoid dreamstate where tomorrow, yesterday and today egregiously bleed together. Spun is a stylistic work of art, managing at once--like a four-day bender--to be startlingly hideous and ludicrously beautiful.

- Requiem for a Dream (2000)--While not solely about speed, veteran actress Louise Lasser's portrayal--of a homebound amphetamine and coffee-addled empty nest syndrome mom trying to fill an emotional void with substances--is phenomenal. Watch in horror as she fetters away her life, worshiping at the cathode ray church of television and making her apartment spotless, literally. In fact, Requiem is really beautifully assembled, rivaling any attempt to duplicate speed's paranoiac landscape. Ultimately Requiem for a Dream offers a long, hard, microscopic look at the disgusting world of addiction. LANCE CHESS