It finally happened. There’s a movie so bad, so stupid and so devoid of anything resembling decent characterization, compelling story and eye-catching visuals that it demands only a half-viewing.
In other words, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III runs 85 minutes. Even the stout of heart will probably only manage 45.
And really, it’s not that the movie is bad. “Bad” doesn’t begin to describe it. “Incompetent” is a better word.
Only someone, say, writer and director Roman Coppola, who has no sense of pacing, character or any inclination where to put a camera, would write this movie and then think, “Pretty good. Let’s make it!”
Apparently, Roman takes cues from his father, Francis Ford Coppola. Remember him? He made The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, which are wonderful, and Apocalypse Now, which is wonderful until Marlon Brando shows up.
Then he spent the next 30-odd years making terrible movie after terrible movie, starting with One From the Heart. It was true in 1982 and it’s true now: No one gives a shit about your heart, Francis, except maybe your cardiologist.
Coppola’s spawn is given to similar flights of dum-dum, and the kids don’t even have The Godfather to fall back on. When Sofia Coppola isn’t making movies about five young women committing suicide (The Virgin Suicides), she makes movies featuring people trapped in hotels (Somewhere, Lost in Translation) or Versailles (Marie Antoinette). Two of those movies are quite charming in their own ways, and two of them are not. At least Ms. Coppola is batting .500, and that’s better than most writer-directors. Her brother Roman, on the other hand, has a big, fat goose egg on his stat page.
Hey, those tortured baseball metaphors in the previous paragraph? More nuance than anything in A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III.
Before the alt-weekly world blows up and suggests I’m comparing my work writing film criticism to the work of making a movie, I’m not. I’m suggesting anyone—anyone—with any inclination toward writing could spend 15 minutes at the keys and do better than this Charlie Sheen-starring shitfest.
“But,” you say, “You didn’t even finish watching it!” Correct. I defy anyone to enjoy this movie from start to finish. And then I defy that person to explain what he could possibly see in it.
Is it perhaps, the way Coppola and crew try to hide the movie’s low-budget origins by NOT showing the car accident that lands Swan in the hospital? Or is it the way they hide the low-budget origins with terrible camera placement? It’s at times like staging a car accident for comic purposes that Coppola could use his pal Wes Anderson. I don’t care much for Anderson’s movies (in particular, two he’s written with Coppola, The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom), but you know what Anderson knows how to do? Block a scene and place a goddamn camera.
Then there’s Charlie Sheen as Charles Swan, a womanizing asshole (what a stretch) maybe suffering from a heart attack while dealing with a break-up. Sheen attempts to infuse Swan with pathos and a comedic sensibility, but that requires acting skills, and acting well is a significant and insurmountable obstacle for him.
Reminder: Charlie Sheen is a bad actor. Like Roman Coppola, he’s a hero/victim of nepotism. Think Sheen would be anywhere without Martin Sheen’s performance in Apocalypse Now? Think again.
“But wait,” you say. “Charlie Sheen was good in Platoon and Wall Street and even Major League.” Yes, and it would be impossible not to be at least adequate in movies with strong screenplays, strong direction and great co-stars.
“Finally,” you say, “What if the movie gets good?” It can’t. Besides, an awesome second half can’t undo the rottenness of the first.
A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III
Written & directed by Roman Coppola
With Charlie Sheen, Jason Schwartzman