A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
"A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III" is just that: A glimpse. Most director's sophomore features are painfully over-ambitious; cocky to a fault. But Roman Coppola's second film, his first since 2001's underrated "CQ," has the opposite problem: It feels like something he threw together over the course of a weekend. The design pops, and the direction is lively, but the script can't help but repeat itself endlessly, even with a sub-90-minute runtime. Maybe he spent 12 years contemplating how his next film should look, but he certainly didn't spend that time contemplating what it should be about.
Charlie Sheen stars as the title character in this '70s-set yarn. Sheen plays a graphic designer who sold out to the man to do record covers and movie posters. He now finds himself floundering in his middle years after the latest in a long line of breakups. Coppola is often Wes Anderson's co-writer, and the combination of willfully adolescent mores and exacting compositions here sometimes recall Anderson's aesthetic. But it never recalls his voice; the film rambles on, from one purposefully-misogynist fantasy to the next, playing more like an extended short than as a project a decade-in-the-making.
The extras entertain while illuminating the problem. A 25-minute documentary about the making of the film -- hardly exhaustive, but far from the fluffy EPK features that populate most home video releases -- focuses primarily on the Art-Deco designs of the film. The second special feature is a look at the real-life graphic designer who inspired the title character. The third and final extra is a commentary with director Roman Coppola that zeroes in on, you guessed it, the composition and visual design of his film. Coppola also manages to point out a lot of sets and locations that held great significance to him; hence their inclusion. It's sweet, but it only makes the problem in this movie more obvious: The frames are more alive than the characters who populate them.
"A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III"