Color Me Kubrick Review
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Set in 1990s London, Color Me Kubrick is a “true-ish” film about flamboyant con man and barfly Alan Conway (John Malkovich), who made his way from one bar to another posing as legendary director Stanley Kubrick. Since the famous director was also famously reclusive, very few people knew what he looked like—nor did they know much about him—so Conway was able to fool everyone from wealthy businessmen to handsome young men.

Color Me Kubrick doesn’t really tell a story as much as it shows a series of short scenes that revolve around Conway. In some of the scenes, characters gather in bars, talking about their exciting run-in with the famous director—how they bought him drinks in return for the promise of a part in Kubrick’s next film. In other scenes, Conway explains more about his con, like how he’d tell his important contacts to pick him up at an address in a posh neighborhood in London—then he’d always just happen to be standing outside waiting when they arrived. In others, viewers follow along with Conway as he visits another bar, using his assumed identity to get free meals or free drinks or expensive gifts—or a young actor, who would be more than happy to return to Stanley’s “secret” apartment for the evening. Throughout most of the film, Conway continues his con unhindered—since no one’s willing to testify against him and admit to being conned—until a run-in with a New York Times reporter raises suspicions.

John Malkovich is at his quirkiest in Color Me Kubrick. His character’s portrayal of Kubrick changes dramatically from one scene to the next. At times, he’s quiet and subdued, while, at other times, he’s loud and eccentric. He makes up his own accents and personae as he goes—which can be pretty daunting if you’re not prepared for it. If you’re a fan of Malkovich’s over-the-top eccentric style, though, you’ll find it highly entertaining and outrageously amusing. It makes the film feel like Saturday Night Live, with almost every sketch starring John Malkovich—or like a fictional version of Borat (sans naked fat guy), in which the viewers are on the inside of an elaborate inside joke.

In the midst of our little inside joke, however, we don’t get to know all that much about Conway. We know that he does very little but drink and smoke. We know that he sees himself as a gigantic failure. But the little we learn about him doesn’t help to make him feel real. And due to the light characterization and the relative lack of story, the film starts to feel somewhat repetitious after a while. So while it does have its moments of brilliance—especially if you can appreciate Malkovich’s wacky performance—Color Me Kubrick definitely isn’t a film for everyone.

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