MOVIE REVIEW: A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III

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Film: A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
Director: Roman Coppola
Writer: Roman Coppola
Studio: American Zoetrope, The Directors Bureau

Apart from 2001’s CQ and a slew of music videos for bands like Green Day, Phantom Planet and Phoenix, Roman Coppola’s résumé is light under the title of “director” as he seems to be more salient in producing, writing and even acting occasionally; he was in The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II! — uncredited, however.

Coppola has also done extensive work with the almighty indie deity, Wes Anderson, having co-written two of his more astonishing works — 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited and the more recent Moonrise Kingdom — so it should come as no surprise that after working closely with a famed director of whose work is so easily recognizable, that one would pick up on certain stylistic techniques and choices that would be evident in their own work down the line. This brings us to Coppola’s newest directorial effort, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, which was originally brought to my attention by cleverly placed Facebook advertisements.

Set in the 1970s, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III follows our title character (Sheen), a graphic designer and ladykiller whose life slides into despair after being broken up with by his girlfriend, Ivana (Katheryn Winnick). Accompanied by his best friend Kirby (Schwartzman) and manager Saul (Murray), Swan cycles in and out of outlandish visions and nightmarish fever dreams as he tries to decide whether he loves his ex, hates her, wants her back, or if he’s better off without her. Also, Swan owns a toucan and drives a beautiful classic car with large breakfast food graphics on either side. I felt that should be noted.

As you may have noticed, the film boasts a cast for fans of the aformentioned Wes Anderson and would likely make anyone familiar or enamored with his works perk their head up in intrigue and or excitement once mentioned. Charles Swan stars Mr. Tiger Blood himself, Charlie Sheen, as well as frequent Anderson players Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, the latter of which happens to be Coppola’s cousin – Nic Cage is their cousin too! — (and if you recall, Schwartzman was the drummer in the indie rock band Phantom Planet at the time of their album The Guest which featured the infectiously catchy and always sung loud, “California,” which eventually became the theme for The OC). Anyway, Coppola directed the video for it because… well, Schwartzman, and because he can. Back to the point; this cast is WINNING, and as it could easily be assumed that placing Sheen in the shoes of a character named Charles who is ostensibly having a meltdown/crisis would be treading dangerous and familiar waters, he is surprisingly well composed for this as opposed to raving about his big, beautiful warlock brain and doing drugs that share his own name.

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is whimsical, interesting and ultimately a lot of fun but the Anderson influences are front and center as well as minor vibes reminiscent of David O. Russell’s I Heart Huckabees — and not only because Schwartzman happens to play the lead in it — there are editing and rampant style similarities as well, but Schwartzman’s demeanor certainly contributes to the comparison. Being redundant with these particular points isn’t me saying that this is necessarily a negative attribute of the film. It definitely plays well, it’s just incredibly derivative of said works from Coppola’s peers, but honestly, what isn’t trite and cliché these days? Adventure Time?

Aside from these observations, even if it only appeals to a crowd or two, Charles Swan is worthy of two or three views — and maybe more from die-hard indie fans — for its killer score by Plush (Liam Hayes), its breezy delivery and its entertainingly quirky performances — although, if it had exceeded its 85-minute runtime, it could have easily overstayed its welcome.

Coppola may get chilly and pale living in the shadow of his more renowned colleagues but his newest feature assures us that he can borrow bits of ideas and add his own flair for a fresh perspective and semi-original take.

SCORE: B

Review written by: Brian LionFollow him on Twitter


Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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