A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 1, 2013 by  

“A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” is a film that is non-banal, imaginative, creative, unusual.  From its abstract use of reality and dreams, the storyline can get confusing, enjoyable, back to confusing quite easily.  While not a perfect film, for a small budget and what Roman Coppolla and crew were able to accomplish, “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” may not be for everyone.  But for those who are used to arthouse films that try to avoid becoming part of traditional cinema, may find the film to be refreshing and fun.

Images courtesy of © 2013 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III


DURATION: 87 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH/Spanish

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: R (Language and Some Nudity)

Release Date: May 14, 2013

Written and Directed by Roman Coppola

Produced by Roman Coppola, Youree Henley

Co-Producer: Darren M. Demetre

Executive Producer: Robert Maron, Michael Zakin

Associate Producer: Sue Yeon Ahn

Music by Liam Hayes, Roger Neill

Cinematography by Nick Beal

Edited by Robert Schafer

Casting by Nicole Daniels, Courtney Sheinin

Production Design by Elliott Hostetter

Art Direction by Almitra Covey

Set Decoration by Elizabeth Keenan

Costume Design by April Napier


Charlie Sheen as Charles Swan III

Jason Schwartzman as Kirby Star

Bill Murray as Saul

Katheryn Winnick as Ivana

Patricia Arquette as Izzy

Aubrey Plaza as Marnie

Set in a stylized Los Angeles, A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III is a playful comedy of lost love, relationships, revenge fantasies, and Brandy Alexanders. Charles (Charlie Sheen) is a successful graphic designer whose fame, money and charm have provided him with a seemingly perfect life. But when Ivana – the woman of his dreams – leaves him, Charles falls apart. He swirls into comedic, fantasy-inspired reflections upon his colorful past, and all the women that have played a part in it. With the support of his intimates including Kirby (Jason Schwartzman), Saul (Bill Murray) and sister Izzy (Patricia Arquette), Charles begins to come to terms with a life without Ivana.

For producer and filmmaker Roman Coppola (“Moonrise Kingdom”, “The Darjeeling Limited”, “CQ”), Coppola has created an independent abstract art film titled “Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” which is based on his influences and passion for the 70’s airbrush art work by Charles White III and others at the time.

Where as his 2001 film “CQ” was set in the 1960’s, Coppola takes the story which is set in the 1970’s and features well-known American talents such as Charlie Sheen (“Wall Street”, “Major League”, “Hot Shots!”), Jason Schwartz (“Rushmore”, “I Heart Huckabees”, “Moonrise Kingdom”), Bill Murray (“Ghostbusters”, “Groundhog Day”, “Lost in Translation”, “Moonrise Kingdom”), Katheryn Winnick (“Love & Other Drugs”, “Killers”, “Failure to Launch”), Patricia Arquette (“Medium”, “True Romance”, “Ed Wood”) and Aubrey Plaza (“Safety Not guaranteed”, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”, “Parks and Recreation”).

The film revolves around a graphic designer named Charles Swan III (portrayed by Charlie Sheen) living in the ’70s, enjoying sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.  He has lived this playboy life while still having a girlfriend named Ivana (portrayed by Katheryn Winnick).

Ivana has had the last straw when she find her photos mixed with other photos (nude sexual photos) which Charles have kept.  So, she ends the relationship!

But for Charles, he has a hard time dealing with the breakup.  Why is that?  Did he love her?  Did he not love her?  Does he want to get back with her or does she want to get back with him?

Despite seeing a shrink, Charles becomes a bit unstable and starts to suffer from dreams, nightmares about himself, Ivana, his best friend Kirby (portrayed by Jason Schwartzman) and his manager Saul (portrayed by Bill Murray).  But also dreaming of his past breakups and relationship with Ivana and through these dreams or nightmare, try to come to grips with what and why he is feeling this way.

What is real?  Is it all a dream?  Is there any reality to what we see on screen? What do these dreams mean?


“Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1).  Picture quality for the film is very good!  Shot outdoors and trying to use natural sunlight in order to save money on the film, outdoor scenes are vibrant and colorful, while indoor scenes were well-planned and well-lit.  Closeups of the characters show plenty of detail in HD.


“Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  The film is primarily dialogue and music driven.  There is not so much use of the surround channels, so the film is center and front-channel driven. There are moments with an explosion and other scenes that provide good dynamic range but for the most part, dialogue is crisp and clear and original music by Liam Hayes and Roger Neill is also very clear.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.


“Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with writer/director Roman Coppola with interesting details of how the film was shot with a very low budget.
  • A Glimpse Behind the Glimpse – The Making of Charles Swan – (24:54) A featurette about how the pop art film was inspired by the artwork of Charles White III, Dave Willard, Peter Palombi.  How the artwork was sexy, imaginative and playful and to create a film with that in mind.  Director Roman Coppola and producer Youree Henley discuss the casting of the film, working on a short budget, crew members talk about production design and more.
  • A Glimpse Into the Mind of Charles White III – (12:10) An interview with graphic artist Charles White III.


“Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” comes with a slipcover case.

I watched a lot of cinema that may seem odd, abstract and while we expect to see these type of films coming from Europe and praise Fellini to even Jean-Luc Godard films for creating films that may not be comprehensive for the masses but yet intellectual and entertaining for those who are purveyors of unique, creative cinema…how are these films viewed if done today?

Personally, watching “Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III”, it’s a film that you respect Roman Coppolla for attempting.  You respect the fact that he is able to create something non-traditional and different from American cinema banality.

But for some reason, I felt a bit non-ebullient towards this film.  Feeling that while funny and audacious at times, the fact is that “Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” doesn’t feel like cinema but almost like watching a home video of Charlie Sheen.  But I’ll discuss what I like and didn’t like about the film.

What I did like about the film is the fact that Roman Coppolla wanted to create a ’70s film and did it.  He may not have had a big budget for the film, but he was able to get his friends together and with what budget they had, were able to put together a unique style of film, that is reminiscent of a Fellini film and definitely not something you will see today in modern America cinema.

What I also enjoyed about this film was how he and the crew were able to make do with what they have. May it be to shoot at his home, using wardrobe that he owned, utilizing natural light but staying true to his goal and focus of bringing in his inspirations in recreating the art that inspired him to make the film.

While Coppolla has said this film was not designed for Charlie Sheen but was originally done as a character study, he knew that Charlie Sheen pretty much embodied the role of Charles Swan III.

And the casting of Charlie Sheen felt right.  The fact is that the “Tiger Blood” infused actor is known for his partying ways and using whatever, drinking whatever and living or having fun with women and forever remaining bitter for his ouster on the hit TV show “Two and a Half Men”.

The characters of Charles Swan III seems as if it is a ’70s version of the modern Charlie Sheen, but in this case, a man who tries to examine why his ex-girlfriend left him through various dreams and nightmares.  From one segment in which his former lovers say goodbye to him, but somehow he rises from the dead and partakes in a ballroom dancing moment with each woman who tells him how they feel about him.

Another segment has an organization of women known as “Ball Busters” who try to blow him up and his best friend, Kirby.  Or another as they are cowboys discovering beautiful women as Indians.

There are many more odd scenes that involve Charles, Kirby and his manager Saul or with his sister Izzy (portrayed by Katheryn Winnick).  And of course, many flashbacks featuring the disintegration of the relationship between Charles and Ivana.

The odd flashbacks are not what I have a problem with as I have been more than open to watching many abstract films from all over the globe.  But with these films, there is always a message from the filmmaker that makes it a sign of the times, especially for that era.  Carefully planned shots of artistry.  And for the most part, using talents that have captivated you for their work in prior cinematic works, rather than public rants that were fodder for entertainment shows and jokes for late night television.

The fact is that this film is perfect for Charlie Sheen, but it’s a double-edged sword because the film is almost like watching the real Charlie Sheen and that is not what we want to see.  Set in the ’70s, actor Jason Schwartzman is able to fit the role, even Bill Murray can fit the role that he plays.  But for Charlie Sheen, he and Charles Swan and their persona seem too alike and it makes you wonder…how much more can one take of “crazy” Charles?  But I’m not going to sound like I’m overly criticizing Sheen for this role because his reality embodies the life of Charles Swan III.  And most importantly, Sheen did put effort into this film, from rehearsing the dance number and even singing the Portuguese song.  Was happy to hear from Coppolla that Sheen worked on that!

But part of my feeling a bit down on the film, I think that part of me expected something much more significant considering Coppolla has worked with Wes Anderson on films such as “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Darjeeling Limited”, but having listened to the audio commentary and special features, it set into perspective for me that this is a low-budget film created by one man’s passion.  He wanted to create a ’70s film and with what budget he had, he did it.  So, I do respect Coppolla for doing that.

The chemistry between Charlie Sheen and Katheryn Winnick was also fun and the two clicked!  What is possibly the silliest part of the film but also my favorite are the two singing a Portuguese song.  The neon lights, the not-so-great singing but it just works.  Even the laughter in the song, I found myself watching this scene over and over!

While we get to see Jason Schwartzman as Kirby Star throughout the film giving his two cents to Charles or somehow winding up in the wildest characters in Charles’ dreams, the same can be said about Bill Murray.  While his character of Saul does not make it into the film that much, he does show up in various weird moments but also adds some star status to the film but plays a character who is also having his own relationship problems.  The same that can be said for Patricia Arquette as Charles’ supportive sister, Izzy.  Who has two children that latch on to Charles.

But the film has its numerous problems.  While a small budget can present numerous problems, I won’t focus on that.  I just found the film to be random at times.  Which I’m very used too thanks to Italian and French cinema but I think the film tries to be imaginative and non-banal, which is a good thing but in terms of comprehensiveness,  for those wanting an easy to understand film may feel confused by how things jump around from dream/nightmare to reality in “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III”.

What is reality? I think it’s obvious as Charles and friends in cowboy outfits going after beautiful women in Indian outfits are surely a fantasy.   His time with his sister is reality.  But what I wanted to see is more of Charles and Ivana, as each time they were together, I felt more drawn to the storyline thanks to their dramatic scenes.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful outdoors.  Night scenes and indoor scenes are well-lit and considering this is a low-budget film, set design and costume design were good, hair styles could have been made to match the ’70s a bit more especially for Ivana but for the most part, the crew made the film work with the best budget they had.  Lossless audio is dialogue-driven and the special features do provide a good amount of information.  From Coppolla’s audio commentary and the making of, but also the short interview with Charles White III.

Overall, “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” is a film that is non-banal, imaginative, creative, unusual.  From its abstract use of reality and dreams, the storyline can get confusing, enjoyable, back to confusing quite easily.  While not a perfect film, for a small budget and what Roman Coppolla and crew were able to accomplish, “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” may not be for everyone.  But for those who are used to arthouse films that try to avoid becoming part of traditional cinema, may find the film to be refreshing and fun.

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