COLOUR ME KUBRICK
Alan Conway (John Malkovich) hides his neurotic insecurities behind the pretence that he is Stanley Kubrick, the great director, but instead of attempting any similarity to the real Kubrick (whose filmography he barely knows), Conway creates a new persona for each time he attempts the impersonation. The only commonality is that it's always an attempt to take a little (or a lot) of money from the encounter. His victims range from heavy metal bands and cabaret singers to gay men from whom he can squeeze a little pocket money. He has acquired a bizarre and exotic wardrobe with which to help create varying personas for his version of Kubrick, from earthy to ethereal, from passive to aggressive. When journalists and eventually the police start asking questions, Conway slips into yet another guise that fools them all - or at least enough of them.
Review by Louise Keller:
In the unlikely event that the name John Malkovich doesn't draw you in, chances are the name Kubrick will. What's in a name? Plenty, as Colour Me Kubrick shows. Especially if your name is Stanley Kubrick. Based on the exploits of a con man whose life style comprising vodka, stretch limos and adulation relies entirely on the exploitation of the borrowed name of the legendary film director, the film is bewilderingly fascinating and quite bizarre. It may lack in tightness of script, but more than makes up for it in every other aspect.
There's plenty of irony on display, not the least being the fact that director producer Brian Cook (in his feature film debut) had worked with the real Stanley Kubrick over a thirty year period. Malkovich looks as though he is having the time of his life taking on a different persona and mannerisms for each separate con. Decked in effeminate, eccentric garb, Malkovich struts and flounces, preens and parades. I love the extra touches of wardrobe like the diamante brooch in the shape of a question mark and the sleep eye mask with the embroidered words 'Tease Me'. Like everyone else who is 'steamrolled' by this shrewd trickster, we are sucked in. He has a tactic for everything: even when a scrum of photographers waiting to expose him, pummels his door. As the façade strips away and the Stanley Kubrick chameleon becomes Alan Conway, he is still able to turn things around to his own advantage. Rehab in the plush luxury of the retreat for the rich and famous, looks highly desirable, with its pedicures, chess games and Jacuzzis.
Droll, entertaining and often outright funny, this offbeat story has instant appeal and I especially like the way it uses music to colour its unravelling. The theme from 2001 A Space Odyssey blares boldly as Conway/Kubrick walks out of his front door. 'I'm not the Man You Think I am,' croons Bryan Adams, while Tom Jones belts out 'Not Responsible'. Adams' final tune 'It's All About Me' haunts as the credits roll.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Based on a real conman's bizarre behaviour as an impostor, this film gives John Malkovich an acting workshop in which he can turn eccentricity into an artform, strutting and prancing and slithering his way through several fantasy characters, all on the precipice of madness. As he may well have been, this Conway, who took his name as some sort of divine guidance to lifestyle. The limitless talents of Malkovich makes the film entertaining, although the episodic structure lacks dramatic cohesion and misses the bite of character revelation. The closest we get is a scene in which Conway breaks down and admits his pretence, blubbering about the absence of any self worth. And we can see how a larger than life character - impersonated though it is - could help a man with such a shrivelled self esteem. Indeed, it brings to mind what actors do ...
Malkovich is surrounded by other great acting talent, even a cameo by Ken Russell, as a bedridden inmate (whose name tag reads K. Russell) at an asylum. All these performers relish the outrageous story and the chance to play off Malkovich, whose characters shift accents, voices, personas and (bizarre) dress at light speed.
Bryan Adams is a good choice for the soundtrack, with the melancholy lyrics (and delivery) of songs that go directly to the subject matter: "Beneath the sleek exterior / There's less than meets the eye / I'm not the man you think I am / But I am the man for you". Of course this is all heavy with the potential for deep pathos, a tragic figure who so loathes his own self he not only covers it by someone else's name and fame, but proceeds to twist that fake identity into a grotesque parody of every human foible and weakness.
We can take this as a valid observation by the filmmaker, who has denied us the usual recipe, but has tried to load our senses with something uniquely eccentric. A British trait.
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COLOUR ME KUBRICK (M)
CAST: John Malkovich, Jim Davidson, Richard E. Grant, Luke Mably, Marc Warren, Terence Rigby, James Dreyfus, Peter Bowles, Ayesha Dharker, Robert Powell, Henry Goodman, Maynard Eziashi, Leslie Philips, Honor Blackman, William Hootkins, Marisa Berenson, Lynda Baron, Ken Russell, Peter Sallis
PRODUCER: Brian Cook, Michael Fitzgerald
DIRECTOR: Brian Cook
SCRIPT: Anthony Frewin
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Howard Atherton
EDITOR: Alan Strachan
MUSIC: Bryan Adams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Crispian Sallis
RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 8, 2006
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: October 25, 2006