Shamelessly 'Kubrick'

Friday, March 23, 2007

Brian Cook's "Color Me Kubrick" is like a nice, deep, clear cocktail of ammonia on the rocks: bracing, comic, astonishing, all of which hide its poison center.

It's a riff on the story of a man caught in the matrix of greed and longing and criminality: one Alan Conway, who spent some years in London pretending to be the great film director Stanley Kubrick, who had exiled himself to that city and was making his last of many films in England, "Eyes Wide Shut." But the movie's true subject isn't Kubrick or Conway but the power of movies over common people. Conway (played brilliantly, in an actor's palette of colors and hues by John Malkovich) basically used his outlandish impersonation to gain sexual leverage on young men, otherwise hard to do, as he was plump, unpleasant, wore moonbat clothes and looked somewhat, er, mentally disturbed. Being a greedy pig, he took financial advantage where he could, but he was mainly trying to get free drinks and get into bed.

But it was the dream of movies that was his weapon, and the endlessly comic, endlessly sad theme of the film is the way otherwise sensible people give themselves up without a whisper of a fight for a shot at the flicks. The film has room for a few good-natured parodies of Kubrick's work, beginning with a sendup of the famous opener to "A Clockwork Orange" and watching Conway/Kubrick pour vodka into a cola can to the thundering blasts of "Thus Spake Zarathustra." It's funny, even when Malkovich delivers Conway's shamelessness to the point of his own shamelessness.

-- Stephen Hunter

Color Me Kubrick Unrated, 90 minutes Contains sexual innuendo. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

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