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A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III (2012)

Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/14/2013

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/14/2013

In my review for The First Time, I brought up the topic of powerful families in Hollywood and we really don't hear much about this anymore, unless it's about Will Smith's kids, and I don't count that. If an accurate analysis was done, the Coppola's would most likely be the clan in the modern era which has touched the most projects. Obviously, we have Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola at the top of this family tree. His daughter, Sofia, is also a director and Oscar winner, and his nephew, Nicolas Cage, has also one an Oscar. His sister, Talia Shire, is an Oscar nominee. His nephew, Jason Schwartzman, has not been nominated for an Oscar, but has been funny in many roles, and that has to count for something. A player who often gets lost in this is Francis Ford's son, Roman Coppola. He has also worked as a director, of both feature films and music videos, and he was nominated for an Oscar as co-writer of Moonrise Kingdom. His second feature film, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III has just been released on home video.

Charlie Sheen stars as the titular character in A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, a man with several problems. His live-in girlfriend, Ivana (Katheryn Winnick), has just left him after she discovered that Charles still had photos of old girlfriends. In his despair, Charles crashes his car and finds himself in the hospital. There, he is visited by his sister, Izzy (Patricia Arquette), an author, and his friend, Kirby Star (Jason Schwartzman), who is a performer. Charles works as a graphic designer and he's been asked to do work for both of these individuals. He's also visited by his manager, Saul (Bill Murray). But, his mind is not on work right now. As Charles sits in his hospital bed, he begins to ruminate on life, specifically past relationships. Can Charles find a way out of this funk and get back to work or will he be stuck there?

When people learn that I review movies, they are often fascinated by/jealous of this, but let me tell you, it can be hard work. Reviewing movies can be difficult enough at times, but when you run into something like A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, which really isn't a movie, it's really hard.

The film as was written and directed by Roman Coppola (and some of it was shot in his house) and this is clearly some sort of dream/vanity project. In the special features included on this Blu-ray Disc, we learn that Roman is enamored with real-life graphic artist Charles White III and that this man served as an inspiration for the movie. Fine, but where did everything else come from? While it has an over-arching idea, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III really doesn't have a plot, as it is broken down into a series of vignettes. As Charles lies in his hospital bed, he thinks about some of his history with Ivana. This seems simple enough. But, then Charles slips into his own imagination and we see him dancing with his past loves at his own funeral. He then imagines a scenario where he, Kirby and Saul are cowboys who are being attacked by a group of women dressed as Native Americans. And things just get weirder from there. Even the scenes which take place in "real life" has a dreamlike quality to them.

So, we've essentially been tricked into watching Roman Coppola's experimental film which he made with a bunch of his friends and associates. (Patricia Arquette used to be married to Roman's cousin. Did that make things weird?) Besides the dream-like, free-association nature of the movie, we also get the camera crew reflected in many surfaces -- something which Roman allowed to happen -- which only adds to the odd vibe here. Obviously, the wild card here is Charlie Sheen. Given the film's title, it's very easy for the viewing public to assume that this is some sort of veiled film about Sheen. But, Roman claims that he didn't write the movie for Charlie. That aside, given all of Sheen's weird publicity in the past few years, audiences may simply tune into this movie assuming that it's going to be an extension of all of that weirdness. And while it reportedly isn't, it can certainly seem that way, as Sheen wears sunglasses throughout the movie and doesn't bring any energy to his performance. Was he told to act like that?

Based on the description given, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III may sound like an interesting curiosity piece or a "so bad, it's good" kind of movie, but it's not. Despite the fact that it's constantly morphing into something different, it's actually quite boring. Given the look of the movie and some of the shots, Roman Coppola is clearly a creative person. And while there's nothing wrong with making a personal film, maybe he should channel that talent into something more accessible. As for Charlie Sheen, he can always blame this on the tiger blood.

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III certainly comes across as sexist on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 21 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a slight amount of grain at times and no defects from the source material. Despite the subject matter, this is a bright and colorful movie -- the colors look very good, most notably the reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good, as noted in actor's closeups and the depth is notable as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The sound really comes to life during the fantasy sequences. The stereo effects show good separation and the surround sound effects, which are distinct from the front channel audio, are fairly detailed. A few moments involve the subwoofer.

The A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Roman Coppola. "A Glimpse Behind the Glimpse: Making the Mind of Charles Swan III" (25 minutes) is a fairly comprehensive featurette. The piece opens by looking at the art used in the film (which is an interesting place to start) and then examines the directing style of Roman Coppola. From there, we get an examination of the cast and characters. The look of the film (production design, costumes, props) is discussed. The piece also gives attention to several of the big scenes in the movie. The segment offers a nice amount of on-set footage and many comments from the cast and the creative team. "A Glimpse Into the Mind of Charles White III" (12 minutes) is an interview with an artist whose work influenced the look of the movie.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.