An intriguing premise that goes a little light on story.
During the last decade of his life (and most of the period beforehand) director Stanley Kubrick was known as a recluse. He rarely worked (he completed only three films between 1980 and his death in 1999) and when he did he did so in relative secrecy, never conducting press interviews or going on talk shows to promote his work. As a result, though many knew the work of Stanley Kubrick (Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, 2001), very few actually knew much about him or, more particularly, what he looked like. Confidence man Alan Conway took this fact and ran with it, duping countless individuals by posing as the mysterious filmmaker during the last decade of his life. Ironically, Conway himself died of a heart attack just three months before the real Kubrick passed in 1999.
Color Me Kubrick is the tale of Conway’s scheming adventures posing as Kubrick. The incomparable John Malkovich plays Conway, clearly relishing in the opportunity to portray such a colorful character. Malkovich’s Conway is essentially an old Queen, dressing in clothes that resemble some kind of cross between a drag show and Liberace’s leftovers. Occasionally he dresses a little more traditionally in a sportcoat and baseball cap, but even those outfits are accompanied by an overdose of eye shadow and some strange additions such as laced driving gloves or a bandana. Kubrick is directed by Brian W. Cook, who was actually the real Stanley Kubrick’s longtime second unit director. The script is by Kubrick’s assisstant of more than 30 years, Anthony Frewin, who received calls from many of the people Conway had duped during the '90’s.
What’s really amusing for anyone with even periphery knowledge of Kubrick is the fact that the Conway portrtayed in this film knows very little about the director. He passes by with obvious name drops and the most expected movie titles (2001, Spartacus), but still he is rarely called out on his game of B.S. Conway rattles off people who’ve been in his movies at one point, with very little accuracy. Still, the people at the dinner table shake their heads in awe, either unaware that Kubrick didn’t make films with most of these people or simply wanting him to be Kubrick so badly that they didn’t really think about what he was saying.
Malkovich is terrific in the part just as he is terrific in every part he plays. He floats about as this flamboyant character, appearing to enjoy the game of dress up just as much as Conway himself likely did. The homosexual angle of Conway is played up to the utmost degree, and Malkovich seems to have a blast prancing around as this likely disturbed man, taking his pick of sexually questionable young men along the way.
Unfortunately, Color Me Kubrick doesn’t have a whole lot to offer outside of the basic premise. It’s entertaining to watch this con man dupe people to such an extreme for a while, but at a certain point it just feels like a repitition of the same premise. Who was Alan Conway before he took on the Kubrick persona? Was he always a con man? Malkovich is such an engaging actor that he carries the story along for a good while, always infinately watchable, but by the end of Color Me Kubrick’s relatively scant 86 minutes, you feel as though it’s gone on for a good half hour too long.
What’s On The Disc:
The sole extra is a pretty good one – a 45 minute documentary on the making of the movie and the real story of Alan Conway. Many people who met him comment on their encounters, often with a clear bit of embarassment. Conway himself actually surfaces for a brief moment in one of his few interviews before his death. This is all pretty fascinating stuff and, in many ways, it goes quite a bit deeper than the film itself does.