Tag: Charlie Sheen

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #86. Platoon (1986)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.


“We been kicking other peoples asses for so long, I figured it’s time we got ours kicked.”

Platoon is a movie I saw way too young.   I was five or six when it was released, and I’d say I watched it before I was 10. I say I was too young, not because of the violence or language in the movie, but because I just never would have got the message of the movie at that age. I kind of remember being a little underwhelmed by Platoon and not understanding why it was such a famous movie at the time. In the years since, I’ve probably seen it two or three more times, always with five to 10 years in between. And every time, as I get older, I appreciate Platoon a little bit more.

Chris (Charlie Sheen) is a fresh faced, middle class college boy just arrived to fight the war in Vietnam. In voiceover, we hear letters written to his grandmother, letters that give the viewer the lowdown on what it means to be a new recruit. To be new means to have not yet proven your worth. There’s no immediate comradery or bond between these men. Chris has to prove himself on the battle field. Something that takes that little bit longer after a botched ambush that everyone blames on Chris for supposedly falling asleep on watch.

Lt. Wolfe (Mark Moses) is officially in command, but like most officers in movies like this, he’s a candy ass figure head who has zero respect from his men. Instead, the real leaders are the higher ranking enlisted grunts. In this case, personified by Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger), a ruthless hard ass who will sacrifice anyone or anything to win each skirmish they come across. There’s also Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe), who is no less effective than Barnes in battle, but brings are more enlightened (ie. drug fuelled) approach to leading his men. Chris gets to oscillate between these too influences, taking on traits of both at different times.

Charlie Sheen does a good job as Charlie. And between this and his team up with Oliver Stone only a couple of years later in Wall Street, it’s weird to remember that there was a time when Charlie Sheen had the potential to be a serious and respected actor. Like I said, he does a good job in Platoon, but there’s a reason why Berenger and Dafoe got the Oscar nominations.

Chris is a passive character, there as the audience surrogate so we can learn about this world as he does. Whereas Sgt. Barens and Sgt. Elias have so much more dimension to them. Neither is all good, or all bad. Obviously, we’re supposed to like Elias more, but there’s enough grey from him to get things wrong and for Barnes to get things right.

I’d say that Platoon and Apocalypse Now are the two quintessential Vietnam movies, and I see them as kind of a pair. Not just because of the Sheen family connection, but because of their diverse approaches to the horror of war. With Apocalypse Now, Coppola dug deep into the disintegrating minds of his characters. Whereas with Platoon, Stone gives us the unrelenting horror that these men went through, and lets the mental toll be assumed.

Directed By – Oliver Stone
Written By – Oliver Stone

Academy Awards
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Sound
Best Editing
Best Original Screenplay (Stone nominated, lost to Woody Allen for Hannah and Her Sisters)
Best Supporting Actor (Dafoe and Berenger nominated, lost to Michael Caine for Hannah and Her Sisters)

***2013 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III


The first re-appearance of Charlie Sheen after his winning vacation from sanity…  A trippy experimental piece by the son of one of the greatest and most ambitious film makers of all time…  Jason Schwartzman in an amazing jewfro…  Bill Murray doing Bill Murray stuff…  With all these ingredients and such a rambling title, it’s amazing just how regular A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charlies Swan III really is.

That’s not to say it’s bad and that I didn’t like it (it’s not, and I did).  It’s to say that for all its affectations and “weirdness”, it’s actually a pretty straight forward affair.  I’ll admit, it took me a little while to get into the flow of Charles Swan and I felt a little left behind by its first few scenes.  But now I think that’s because I was looking for complications, trippy film making and rule breaking story techniques that just weren’t there.  It’s a simple, straight forward story of heartbreak, told in a fairly simple and straight forward way, with the odd artistic flourish or exploitation of poetic licence to add a little colour here and there.

Until now, all I had seen of Roman Coppola’s work were the two Wes Anderson movies with his co-writing credit, The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom.   And I really dig them both.  I haven’t been able to track down his directorial debut, 2001’s CQ, but after seeing Charles Swan, I’m more keen than ever to give it a look.

Here, Sheen plays the titular Charlie Swan, a graphic designer in 70s Los Angeles, recovering from a recent breakup.  Schwartzman is his best friend, a comedian who’s album cover designs are the basis of Swan’s successful design career, and the cause of his current creative block.  Bill Murray is some sort of business associate, a manger or lawyer or accountant or some such.  And an Arquette (does it matter which one) plays his sister.  Blurring real life with fever dreams and, at one point, a dramatisation of Schwartzman’s stand-up act, Charles Swan is almost a series of vignettes telling the story of Swan’s relationship beginning, middle and end, just not necessarily in that order.

The closing scene, is a single shot tracking from a car park to the beach as various characters from throughout these glimpses into Swan’s mind pose for a photograph that will be the latest album cover for Schwartzmann’s Kirby Star.  Once the photo is taken, all the actors break character and address the camera directly, smashing the fourth wall, telling the audience who they are and who they played.  Even the composer who wrote the score gets his moment in the spotlight before the camera finally settles on a mirror, showing its operator, Roman Coppola.  It’s an odd little closing moment at the end of an odd little film.  And despite its abysmal box office takings and negative critical reception, I think A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charlies Swan III has enough bright points to make it worth eighty-six minutes of your time.

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
Directed By – Roman Coppola
Written By – Roman Coppola