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A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III Blu-ray Review

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III (2013) movie poster A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III

Theatrical Release: February 8, 2013 / Running Time: 86 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Roman Coppola

Cast: Charlie Sheen (Charles Swan III), Jason Schwartzman (Kirby Star), Bill Murray (Saul), Katheryn Winnick (Ivana), Patricia Arquette (Izzy Swan), Aubrey Plaza (Marnie), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Kate), Dermot Mulroney (Doctor), Richard Edson (Sanchez), Stephen Dorff (Stephen), Colleen Camp (Karen), Angela Lindvall (Veiled Woman), Gloria Laino (Lupe), August Culligan (Nephew August), Oliver Culligan (Nephew Oliver), Anne Bellamy (Grandma), Jennifer Furghes (Stacey)

Buy A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III from Amazon.com: Blu-ray • DVD

Few celebrities receive the kind of around-the-clock exposure that Charlie Sheen got in early 2011. Thankfully, he didn't die or kill anyone. He just had the most public meltdown in modern history,
as he went through in-home substance rehab and was dismissed from a lucrative, long-running sitcom that no one seems to really like. The entertainer in Sheen made the most of his global podium by making bizarre T-shirt-ready claims about his "tiger blood" and "Adonis DNA." His Twitter follower count blew up and a nationwide tour sold out. No train wreck ever seemed quite as amusing or brazen.

The allure of a rich party animal nut case is not without limits. Sheen is never far from celebrity news, but he is no longer a must-see spectacle. And now, having endured many lifetimes' worth of scandals, he tries to pick the pieces of his career back up three years shy of 50. He's got "Anger Management", an FX comedy series that is apparently well into its second season, having plunged from its record-setting nearly 6 million viewers of its June 2012 debut to an average audience of around one million.

Having played characters named Charlie on television for every year since 2000, Sheen is now known as a sitcom guy, but that's definitely not how his career began. No, Sheen followed his accomplished father Martin's footsteps into feature film acting, taking the lead role in Oliver Stone's Best Picture Oscar-winning Vietnam drama Platoon at just 20 years old. From there, after a few years of drama and action films, Sheen settled into a comedy star and one I quite took to in fare like Men at Work, The Chase, and the two Major League movies. It's tough for me to connect the Sheen of movies enjoyed on '90s Saturday broadcasts with the Sheen of today known from an unwatchable yet widely syndicated traditional sitcom and real life lunacy.

Charlie Sheen seeks professional redemption as the titular graphic designer of the independent comedy "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III."

One of Sheen's more believable plays for legitimacy comes in A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. Yes, Sheen holds the title role and that name suggests some kind of line-blurring autobiographical farce. That appears to be an unfortunate coincidence because this independent comedy is an original work written, directed, and produced by Roman Coppola, the son of legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and a two-time co-writer of Wes Anderson (The Darjeeling Limited and last year's Oscar-nominated sleeper Moonrise Kingdom).

Charles Swan III is the owner of a graphic design studio bearing his name. He owns a pet toucan, drives around in a car with bacon and eggs painted on its sides, and claims to have never made one deadline. The one he's currently late on is an album cover for his best friend, Jewish singer/comedian Kirby Star (Jason Schwartzman, Roman's first cousin, in a thick beard and curly mess of hair). Swan has his excuses for the tardiness. He's heartbroken, depressive, and weary after he is dumped by his young girlfriend Ivana (Katheryn Winnick), an aspiring actress enraged to find private photos of her in the same drawer as those of ex-girlfriends.

You can find some similarities between Sheen and his character beyond their names. Swan is fixated on women and prone to fantasy. He imagines himself, Kirby, and his business manager Saul (Bill Murray), whose 22-year marriage is falling apart, as cowboys on the defensive against an army of attractive female Indians headed by Ivana. When Swan's cabbie can't hook him up with coke or pot, he settles for $800 worth of black market Russian caviar, even though his finances are dire. In some of the scenes whose reality seems most certain, Swan plants surveillance equipment inside Ivana's reclaimed possessions.

Jason Schwartzman sports a curly Afro and a thick beard as singer/comedian Kirby Star in a film by his first cousin Roman Coppola. In one of Charles Swan III's fanciful fantasies, ex-girlfriend Ivana (Katheryn Winnick) leads a tribe of scantily-clad white Indian women (including Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in an attack on men.

A Glimpse Inside is a sloppier and looser film than you expect from someone as experienced as Coppola. This may only be his second feature as director but he's been helming music videos and commercials since the mid-1990s.
Not only has he twice worked with the inventive Anderson (collaborations that clearly secured some of the on-camera talent here), but filmmaking seems to be in his DNA, based on his father's achievements and younger sister Sofia's respectable output as well.

All of that raises expectations and places disappointment squarely at Roman's feet. This is one of the least likable movies I've seen in a long time. Full of bad music (including a Spanish language duet by Sheen and Winnick) and void of even a single laugh, it's tough to find any good qualities here. Even the great Bill Murray is squandered in his few scenes. Such a mess is this film that it isn't until close to its end that you realize it's seemingly set in the 1970s rather than Charles Swan just driving an old car. The subject matter renders this the mindless antithesis to such smart, creative break-up romantic comedies as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (from which Schwartzman and "guest stars" Aubrey Plaza and Mary Elizabeth Winstead spring).

A Glimpse Inside made for an ignoble debut for one of the business' newest distributors, A24 Films, for whom this film grossed just $45,000 in limited February theatrical release. That is a far cry from the $2 million per episode Sheen was collecting on "Two and a Half Men." The film hits Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday from A24's designated home video partner Lionsgate.

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($19.98 SRP)


A Glimpse Inside is more polished visually than in any other way. Gladly, the Blu-ray's 1.85:1 transfer presents the film with the utmost quality, showing off its often creative and stylish photography with pleasing sharpness and vibrancy. The disc's 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack also warrants praise, for the strong sound effects it disperses. Dialogue isn't always sharply recorded, though, and the inconsistent volume levels repeatedly require adjustment. The film is treated to English SDH and Spanish subtitles, but they do not extend to the bonus features.

Roman Coppola directs the film's ambitious closing scene on a beach in "A Glimpse Behind the Glimpse." Charles White III shares his life in art in a bonus interview.


The Blu-ray's HD video extras begin with the featurette "A Glimpse Behind the Glimpse: Making the Mind of Charles Swan III" (24:54). Roman Coppola cites his influences of airbrushed art and intent to make a subtle period film,
while Sheen, Murray, and other actors express confidence in and admiration for their director and castmates. It's a good companion that is better than the movie whose production it documents.

"A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles White III" (12:10) hears from one of the individuals behind the film's artwork, who discusses his life in illustration, particularly the airbrush era that inspires the film.

Buried among Set Up options is an audio commentary by writer/director/producer Roman Coppola. He makes some sense of where this is all coming from, sharing the thoughts behind the movie's music, intended imperfections, subject matter, and easily missed subtle details. The movie's brevity aids this track somewhat and perhaps makes this a less torturous way to experience the film.

The Blu-ray's menu creatively establishes the movie's artistic sensibility although its title wording may lead you to expect a 3D movie.

"Also from Lionsgate" repeats the same HD trailers with which the disc opens, promoting "Anger Management": Season One, The Beaver, I Love You Phillip Morris, Meatballs, and Casa De Mi Padre. A Glimpse Inside's own trailer is unfortunately not included.

The cool menu briefly animates a stream of subsconscious interests emerging from Charles Swan III's head (a less graphic version of the film's opening imagery), while a variation of the title is rendered in a neon light. The disc does not resume playback, but does let you place bookmarks on the film.

The eco-friendly blue keepcase is topped by a plain slipcover and accompanied by no inserts.

Business manager Saul (Bill Murray) voices his own problems to a hospitalized Charles Swan III (Charlie Sheen). In this scene, Ivana (Katheryn Winnick) and Charles Swan III (Charlie Sheen) sing a duet in Spanish.


A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is a bigger waste of time than its cast and creator would lead you to expect. I can't see many enjoying this humorless comedy and can only wonder what those who made it think of the horrid final product.

Sporting great picture, strong but erratic sound, and a decent supply of bonus features, Lionsgate's Blu-ray is serviceable, but I am almost certain you'd regret giving it any of your time.

Buy A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD

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Related Reviews:
New: The Guilt Trip • Barrymore • Silver Linings Playbook • The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernαndez • Shanghai Noon & Shanghai Knights
Charlie Sheen: Platoon • Wall Street • Ferris Bueller's Day Off • Red Dawn (1984) • Being John Malkovich
Jason Schwartzman: Rushmore • Shopgirl • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World • Funny People • Fantastic Mr. Fox
Bill Murray: Passion Play • The Royal Tenenbaums • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou • Scrooged | Patricia Arquette: Ed Wood
Co-Written by Roman Coppola: The Darjeeling Limited | Aubrey Plaza: Safety Not Guaranteed | Casa De Mi Padre

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Reviewed May 12, 2013.

Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 A24 Films, FilmBuff, American Zoetrope Productions, and Lionsgate.
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