I had little idea of what to expect going into a viewing of Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, having only seen these suggestive posters. What I found was a surprisingly charming tale of a gifted man obsessed with beautiful possessions who is having trouble letting go of his latest love. It was the cast that really drew me in, sporting Charlie Sheen, Jason Schwartzman, Patricia Arquette, Katheryn Winnick, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aubrey Plaza and Bill Murray, plus the written and directorial effort from the Oscar-nominated Roman Coppola. It’s a fun little gem of a picture you probably missed in theaters, so hit the jump to check out my review of the film on Blu-ray to see if it’s right for you.
At a runtime of 87 minutes, this is a quick little tale that mixes the absurd with the all too real as viewers get to explore inside the mind of aging artist, Charles Swan III (Sheen). Though it’s based on the work and life of Los Angeles artist Charles White III, the film could easily be a commentary on Sheen’s own private life or a bit of catharsis on the part of Coppola himself. In fact, it’s all three of these things together, punctuated by fantastical retreats into daydreams. Every time that life gets a little too difficult for Swan III – an apparent heart condition, a looming deadline, the irreconcilable break-up with his beautiful girlfriend (Winnick) – he escapes into one of his fantasies. In the end, the real world catches up to him and Swan III channels his creativity into productivity rather than escapism. The unconventional ending won’t please everyone, but it’s certainly memorable.
A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III really shines when it reaches for the absurd. Sheen has a great rapport with both Schwartzman – who plays his friend and client, a comedian-musician – and Murray – who plays Swan’s fretful accountant. This trio gets tossed into some wacky situations in which they go up against the femme fatales played by Winnick, Winstead and a number of other attractive women. It’s about as quirky as you’d expect, though it doesn’t take it as far as Coppola’s writing partner Wes Anderson does. I’m not exactly a fan of the version of Sheen seen in Two and a Half Men and Anger Management, but he’s rather charismatic in this role. Having said that, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is worth a watch for its absurdity and obscurity alone.
A great option for cinephiles as Coppola positively fills the 87 minutes of playing time with behind-the-scenes anecdotes, personal histories, director’s decisions and the finer points of technical filmmaking. He seems to read your mind and answers your unvoiced questions, such as where certain scenes took place, what artwork adorns the walls, how they pulled off “that shot” and why there are decals of bacon and eggs on the side of a vintage Cadillac Fastback.
A Glimpse Behind the Glimpse: Making the Mind of Charles Swan III:
This 25-minute behind-the-scenes special features commentary from Coppola, Murray, Sheen, Winstead, Schwartzman, Winnick and Plaza, along with production designer Elliott Hostetter and producer Youree Henley. It also goes into mini-featurettes on each of the main characters and a number of the signature scenes throughout the film. There are quite a few details to be found here, even more than those heard in the audio commentary. There’s also a nice nod to the film’s composer, Liam Hayes.
A Glimpse Into the Mind of Charles White III:
A 10-minute interview with acclaimed artist Charles White III, with a retrospective on pop art of the 60s and 70s, including a look at a vintage Star Wars poster with work from Drew Struzan.