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Movie Review

"Color Me Kubrick" | Like clockwork: Malkovich perfects the con

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"Color Me Kubrick," with John Malkovich, Jim Davidson, Richard E. Grant, Luke Mably, Marc Warren, Terence Rigby, James Dreyfus. Directed by Brian Cook, from a screenplay by Anthony Frewin.

86 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Varsity, through Thursday.

Subtitled "A True ... Ish Story," Brian Cook's enjoyable if untidy "Color Me Kubrick" is a fitting showcase for John Malkovich's slinky charms. As Alan Conway, a con artist who for some months cadged drinks, meals, money and sex by passing himself off to unsuspecting Brits as the director Stanley Kubrick, he doesn't walk so much as glide, like a caterpillar who's had some very expensive martinis. With different people, he puts on different voices: he's posh with artsy folk, a little more rough-edged with a rock band. Conway donned Kubrick's identity like a cape (though his persona was nothing like that of the real, reclusive filmmaker); Malkovich shows him flourishing it with quiet glee.

Cook, formerly an assistant director to the real Kubrick, makes his feature debut here, and a very idiosyncratic one at that. "Color Me Kubrick" is filled with playful references, musical and otherwise, to Kubrick's films. "The Blue Danube" (featured in "2001: A Space Odyssey") gracefully flavors one scene; a telephone rings, perfectly timed to the music's strains. The film is wildly stylized to indicate Kubrick's heyday in the '60s and '70s; somewhat confusingly so. Clothing and furniture seem of another era, but cellphones and computers indicate very recent years. (Conway, in real life, impersonated Kubrick in the '90s.) And the film, scripted by Anthony Frewin (also a former Kubrick assistant), seems to try on different styles at will. At one point, a character addresses the camera, though no one else does.

But Malkovich's performance, and the irresistible concept of an anonymous man dining out on a false identity, carries the film along giddily, and Cook wisely keeps "Color Me Kubrick" short and deliciously tart. As an actor, Malkovich has always carried a faint whiff of debauchery; it's in the way he languidly draws out his words, and in the knowingness of his gaze. Here, he kicks his usual presence up a notch, preening like a cat who wants his chin scratched. Conway, who died in 1998 (just four months before Kubrick's death), seemed to have the last laugh on those he duped. You can almost hear his mocking yet satisfied cackle, as the memory of the film fades away.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


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