A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is rudely enjoyable
Starring Charlie Sheen and Bill Murray. Rating unavailable. Now playing
It would be wrong to say it was a stretch for Charlie Sheen, Hollywood’s most tedious bad boy, to play a fellow more famous for his coked-up troublemaking than for his art, but the movie is not without its own peculiar artistry.
A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is a belated follow-up for Roman Coppola (Sofia’s older brother) to his stylish, somewhat incomprehensible 2001 debut with CQ. Here, film history and its personal detritus are obviously on his mind, starting with the sidelong title reference—Proust being offered no apologies—to designer Charles White III, whose ’80s-era illustrations figure prominently in this retro pastiche.
Lit cigarette and dark aviator glasses always at the ready, Sheen’s haggard Swan is a hot Hollywood designer going through a cold streak, his latest gorgeous young girlfriend (Toronto’s Katheryn Winnick) having dumped him. After drunkenly crashing his antique Cadillac into a Laurel Canyon pool, he hits the hospital for a series of drug-addled fantasies that allow the director to indulge every movie-related whim he can (or can’t quite) muster. To pick one John Ford–themed example, Bill Murray, also playing Swan’s mopey accountant, shows up in John Wayne’s outfit from The Searchers to save him and his Lenny Bruce–like pal (a bearded Jason Schwartzman) from scantily clad blond Indians, aka the Secret Society of Ball Busters.
On a mind-free level, the cameo-laden flick’s stoner flow of Instagram-like images is rudely enjoyable. But who knows what Coppola thought he was saying here? He can probably defend his aging Don Juan’s rampant misogyny and idiotic self-destruction as a kind of homage to an extinct species. But if this kind of gin-soaked cad is a thing of the past, and that’s debatable, has he been gone long enough for us to miss him?