06 December 2006

Colour Me Kubrick

Colour Me Kubrick
The film Colour Me Kubrick is a comedy about Alan Conway (played by John Malkovich), a conman who spent several years in the 1990s pretending to be Stanley Kubrick. It was surprisingly easy for Conway to use Kubrick's name whenever he wanted a free meal or a sexual favour. He met men in bars, introduced himself as Kubrick, promised them acting roles, and seduced them.

Alan Conway died in 1999 (as did Kubrick), and this film is based on a newspaper interview he gave after his con was discovered. The credits call it "A true...ish story", and with such limited source material it's not surprising that they invented much of the plot themselves.

The poster tagline is clumsy: "They wanted something for nothing. He gave them nothing for something". The only original music is an overly literal song by Bryan Adams: "I'm not the man you think I am...". The cast-list reads like a roll-call of mediocre 1980s British TV: Honor Blackman, Peter Bowles, Leslie Phillips, Robert Powell, and the appalling 'comedian' Jim Davidson.

The running-time is less than ninety minutes. The repetitive plot features Conway meeting people, schmoozing them, then moving on to someone else. The film relies entirely on John Malkovich's performance, though it gives him nothing to work with as there's no depth to the character.

The script was written by Anthony Frewin, one of Kubrick's personal assistants (who also wrote the book Are We Alone?). The director, Brian W Cook, was Kubrick's assistant director. Maybe they think that, by portraying Conway as a sleazy opportunist, they are avenging Conway on Kubrick's behalf, but the result is simply exploitative.

Alan Conway's story is a fascinating one. It's amazing that he could pass himself off as Kubrick for so long, and although he was motivated by financial and sexual gain, there are presumably also some psychological reasons for his actions. Whatever they may be, there are no insights into them in this film, only cheap laughs. It's pretty tasteless to make a comedy about Conway - the man was mentally unbalanced, after all.

Colour Me Kubrick currently has no theatrical or video distribution in either the US or UK. It's hard to see it, but it's not hard to see why. Conway was interviewed by Channel 4 for a short documentary called The Man Who Would Be Kubrick (1999) - it lasts for less than fifteen minutes, but it tells us more about Conway than Colour Me Kubrick does.