Thursday, April 5, 2007

Color Me Kubrick

Posted on Thu, Apr 5, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Color Me Kubrick
Studio: Magnolia
WorkNameSort: Color Me Kubrick
Color Me Kubrick, the new biopic about early-'90s Stanley Kubrick imposter Alan Conway (John Malkovich), is not the first film about a delusional man passing himself off as a movie director. But it's certainly the worst.

Reading about the movie, I couldn't help but think of Abbas Kiarostami's Close Up, the 1990 Iranian film about a similar subject. It's the true story of a guy named Ali Sabzian, who pretended to be brilliant Iranian auteur Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and the family in Tehran that bought the act hook, line and sinker. The shenanigans resulted in a court case, whose stock footage is interspersed with Kiarostami's dramatizations, creating an impossible-to-categorize meditation on the unattainable nature of celebrity and the psychology that would drive someone to commit this most unusual crime.

In other words, Kiarostami had a lot to say with his movie about a filmmaker impersonator. But when Color Me Kubrick director Brian Cook is asked by an interviewer, 'What is the movie about?â?� in the DVD's lone supplement, the Being Alan Conway featurette, he pauses and laughs, unable to dredge up an answer for such a straightforward question. Cut to somebody else.

It's a question you'll be asking yourself, while fighting the urge to keep your eyes wide shut, throughout this hideous 86 minutes of Malkovich hamming through a horde of fabulous, flamboyant and flaming approximations of Kubrick. Look at how easily he convinces an aspiring metal band that their music is good enough for the next Stanley Kubrick movie. Watch as he drunkenly pulls the wool over Frank Rich's (William Hootkins) eyes at a restaurant. Marvel as he lures impressionable gay suitors to his home with promises of backstage film jobs or cameo roles in movies. Name-dropping celebrities with the cosmopolitan diction of an even gayer Truman Capote, Malkovich's riff on Conway's riff on Kubrick has him changing his voice from that of an effete Brit to a Southern dandy to a Kissingerian loudmouth to a New York Jew with each new context.

If Color Me Kubrick reveals anything, it's only how much times have changed. The lack of visibility of directors is no longer an issue with the proliferation of images on DVD bonus features, trade magazines and the infinite storage of the IMDb. Conway looked and sounded nothing like Kubrick and didn't even research his supposed identity. He's clearly a fascinating character who deserves a better movie.


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