Review: Color Me Kubrick (2005)

Color Me Kubrick opens this weekend on limited screens across the nation. My review originally appeared on Ferdy on Films.

John Malkovich has never been more entertaining than he is portraying flamboyant con artist Alan Conway, a second-rate fraud who passes himself off as film director Stanley Kubrick. Malkovich playing Conway playing Kubrick, with his cigarette holder, baseball cap, and neck scarf, employs a range of accents and vocal delivery as outlandish as his wardrobe, all to hilarious effect.

The film follows Conway as he leapfrogs from one con to another, promising acting roles in his next film and connections to fame and fortune in exchange for a drink here, a dinner there, a hotel suite and a roll in the sack. Conway is a name dropper extraordinaire, with a surprising lack of knowledge about the man he pretends to be. His impromptu banter is half the fun. He refers to “Little Tommy Cruise” and “Miss Kirk Douglas” and in discussing his next project, the 2001 sequel called–3001, what else?–he mentions that Elizabeth Taylor will star as Mission Control.

The film, subtitled “A True…ish Story,” and is loosely based on the real Alan Conway, who posed as the reclusive Kubrick during the early 1990s. While Malkovich, an actor about whom the word “subtle” is rarely used, gives a performance that is well over the top, the film itself is straightforward, which keeps matters from careening completely over the edge. Occasionally, in a wink to the audience, a character addresses the camera directly.

The paunchy and alcoholic Conway manages to stay one step ahead of the game, leaving a trail of the disgruntled, jilted and duped behind him, including the owner of a gay bar played by Richard E. Grant. Conway hits the relative big time when he falls in with Lee Pratt, dubbed “TV’s Mr. Nice Guy” and portrayed by Jim Davidson as a cross between Elton John and William Shatner. Conway rolls into Pratt’s entourage with the biggest show business carrot of them all: Vegas, baby! Kubrick’s connections, including close friend Shecky Greene, are going to make Pratt a star. Just imagine it.

With a brief running time of 86 minutes, director Brian Cook and screenwriter Anthony Frewin, humorously wrap things up before Conway (slash Kubrick slash Malkovich) has a chance to wear out his welcome with us. Kubrick fans will enjoy the references to the auteur’s films, in particular 2001 and A Clockwork Orange and everyone will find much to enjoy in Malkovich’s performance. [**** out of 5]

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