"Color Me Kubrick", a great performance from John Malkovich

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Color Me Kubrick is a film based on the true story of Alan Conway, a con artist who in the 1990’s fooled many by passing himself off as the great director Stanley Kubrick. The film first introduces Alan Conway (John Malkovich) as an eccentric, middle aged man residing in a small apartment in the United Kingdom. From the beginning two things are clear; the first being that Conway uses Stanley Kubrick’s celebrity to, ironically feel as if he, himself were famous. The second is that by doing this he is able to scam people by feigning to help them with their career in show business. As the film develops Conway’s lies begin to unravel, his sanity questioned, and ultimately his actions become a reflection of the society’s infatuation with celebrity.
Brian W. Cook’s Color Me Kubrick is a dark comedy that is meant to be entertaining as well as a critique on people’s fixation with fame. He attempts to create a film that is part biographical, part satire, and part entertainment, unfortunately he falls a bit short on some of the points he tries to convey. Though the film does use some aspects of Conway’s life, it is hard to separate the reality from the pure make believe. The film does have its funny moments but at times falls flat. Satire is one of the few that seems to be consistent in the film.
Cook is able to successfully convey the satire aspect of the film. He takes Alan Conway, someone who is in every way possible detached from himself, and makes him someone relatable to ourselves, our desires of being known and all the good things one assumes comes with that. Cook touches on the extremities of what some individuals are capable of doing for fame and fortune, and the prize that is paid. Though not said in the film, Cook emphasizes on the value that society today puts on celebrity, and this is especially apparent on the actions taken by Conway, as well as by the people he cons. Cook definitely redeems himself by creating satire that works.
If there is one thing that works better in this film than the satire it has to be John Malkovich’s performance. He brings charisma to the film, and makes Alan Conway, a man who is untrustworthy, arrogant, and self-centered into a character that is likable. John Malkovich shows different acting ranges, he and is able to show the lighter side of Conway as well as his complexity. This is probably one of the best performances that Malkovich has given in his long and impressive career. Overall the film is not great but Malkovich definitely raises the quality of the film.
Two other factors that work in this film (though not as well as Malkovich’s performance) are the structure of the film and the music. The film is mainly structured to capture Conway’s point of view of himself and of the world outside of him, and in doing this Cook creates a film that is more interesting and compelling. What seems to work fairly better than the structure is the music by Bryan Adams. It works because the lyrics are consistent with the storyline, and they invoke Conway’s deepest feelings and thoughts.
Color me Kubrick works because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It takes topics that are serious and finds the humor in them. Though not a great movie, Cook makes a movie that speaks to its audience, even if it is through satire, and Malkovich’s performance is just great, it alone makes this movie worth seeing.
Rating: B-
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