Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ The Punisher Will Reportedly Appear As The Villain In ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 The Punisher Will Reportedly Appear As The Villain In ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season

Rome Review: 'A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charles Swan III' Displays The Flair & Flaws Of Roman Coppola's Approach

Photo of Jessica Kiang By Jessica Kiang | The Playlist November 15, 2012 at 7:02AM

Roman Coppola may only be on his second directorial feature, but as a music video and commercials director, and as a writer and frequent Wes Anderson collaborator, not to mention handling the second unit on various films from his famous family members, he has certainly amassed a wealth of filmic experience. All of which he brings to bear on "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III," which premieres tonight at the Rome Film Festival. Destined to be a crowd-pleaser, for its many celebrity cameos, quirky and apropos Liam Hayes music, and lovingly detailed 70s-influenced stylization, the films affords many glossy, knowing pleasures, and we found ourselves really wanting to love it. But that deeper level of engagement just didn't kick in for us, for two main reasons: the lack of a strong narrative through line and the lack of dimensionality to the central titular character. The film delivers on its title, but it turns out we need more than just a glimpse.
5

A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charles Swan III Charlie Sheen
Roman Coppola may only be on his second directorial feature, but as a music video and commercials director, and as a writer and frequent Wes Anderson collaborator -- not to mention handling the second unit on various films from his famous family members -- he has certainly amassed a wealth of filmic experience. All of which he brings to bear on "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III," which premieres tonight at the Rome Film Festival. Destined to be a crowd-pleaser because of its many celebrity cameos, quirky and apropos Liam Hayes music, and lovingly detailed 70s-influenced stylization, the film affords many glossy, knowing pleasures, and we found ourselves really wanting to love it. But that deeper level of engagement just didn't kick in for us for two main reasons: the lack of a strong narrative through line and the lack of dimensionality to the central titular character. The film delivers on its title, but it turns out we need more than just a glimpse. 

Charles Swan III is a successful illustrator and designer who runs a funky LA design house. He is also a player whose brain is apparently 70% devoted to sex, and whose girlfriend Ivana (Katheryn Winnick) has just left him. And yes, he is played by Charlie Sheen. But the obvious metatextuality (though the similarity of their names does seem to be a coincidence -- Coppola has said it was actually inspired by designer Charles White III) recedes a little after the first few minutes as we establish that no, Sheen is not playing a version of himself, though clear parallels exist. Charles is trying to come to terms with Ivana's departure, but through a series of slightly surreal mishaps ends up in hospital where he is visited by his Business Manager (Bill Murray, of whom, as usual, there is simply not enough), his best friend Kirby Star (Jason Schwartzman, who is similarly great, and underused) and his sister Isabelle (Patricia Arquette, nice to see her doing something other than having portentous dreams in "Medium"). Swan's self-absorption is threatening even those few close relationships -- he hasn't designed his sister's book jacket, nor yet come up with any ideas for Kirby's next album cover, preferring instead to obsess over Ivana and escape into several gorgeously rendered, vivid fantasies. A hasty conclusion then hurtles us into the lovely credit scene where the actors call out their names and roles before the scroll appears. 

A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charles Swan III

The fantasy sections are great fun, from a tomahawk-wielding raiding party of scantily clad female "Indians," to a sci-fi-ish semi-military organization (the Secret Society of Ball Busters, reminiscent of Coppola's debut "CQ") run by ladies in garters, to a rescue fantasy in which Charles smoothly dispatches an evil Nazi, they are all charming renderings of the infantile, sexualised-but-kind-of-sweet daydreams of a man who has never grown up. And as much as they are excuses for a lot of gorgeous women to wear fantastic costumes, they work best as the titular glimpses inside a mind; despite their juvenility, they make you like and understand Charles a bit more. 

But that's the rub. Outside of those fantasies, Sheen's Charles is just too much of a blank slate - he's a canvas onto which all sorts of bright colors are painted (he owns a toucan, his classic Caddy has bacon and egg decals on its flanks, he spends $15,000 on a Samurai helmet), but we don't really get a sense of his inner life, or his anguish, no matter how often he iterates it. And so a climactic scene in which he confronts Ivana and finally shows some vulnerability (delivering genuinely sad and insightful lines about not missing the person, but missing loving the person), feels outright unearned. Whether Sheen is simply not up to the gig or whether the role is just underwritten is difficult to tell. But unlike, say, "Moonrise Kingdom," which Coppola co-wrote, where there's a real ensemble feel and no one character ever outstays their welcome, here the film is about Charles, with all other players relegated to supporting, and sometimes tiny roles (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Dermot Mulroney, Stephen Dorff, et al). 

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, Charlie Sheen

That perma-sunglassed Charles is self-obsessed is obviously part of the point, but that doesn't make it less of an issue. And being ironically aware of one's self-indulgence is not an excuse for that indulgence. Because without real insight into what makes Charles Swan tick, all the painstaking art direction in the world (and we reiterate, it does look wonderfully stylish, paying loving homage to its influences) cannot fill the void. Charles is the film, so if he is charming, witty and self-aware on the surface, but lacking in depth, then those are the attributes of the whole movie. 

We like Coppola as a director, but wish this were a story and a character that better deserved his idiosyncratic, energetic visual sensibility. Here he's working with a lot of resources at his disposal, heaps of self-awareness and no shortage of talent, but the confidence, even bravado, that the film displays in it visuals, it seems to lack in its subject matter. It makes 'Glimpse' a film of surface pleasures, even joys, but those joys seem to be longing for a central idea around which to coalesce. [B-]

This article is related to: Roman Coppola, Review, Charlie Sheen, A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charles Swan III, Rome Film Festival


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates