Try to wrap your mind around this one. Take the guy who was the center of attention and played the role in Being John Malkovich, and have him play a role as a guy who impersonates the film auteur Stanley Kubrick, of 2001 fame in a story that may or may not be true.
Color Me Kubrick tells the tale of Alan Conway, who decided to take on the personality of the director of Dr. Strangelove lore, as the director had become notoriously reclusive for almost two decades…by the early nineties. People who met Conway as Kubrick would be taken in by the low-key act and would volunteer free food, hotel rooms and monetary gifts, and then Conway would flee at some point. New York Times Columnist Frank Rich was among those in the London scene who had become convinced the man they met was Kubrick. Conway’s performance was convincing enough for people to presume that Kubrick was homosexual, never mind that he was married for over 30 years and had two children.
The story was adapted by Anthony Frewin and directed by Brian Cook, both of whom were crewmembers on Kubrick’s set (Cook was the first assistant director on Eyes Wide Shut), and Malkovich inhabits Conway as Kubrick rather convincingly. The permeating feel throughout the film is that tongue is firmly planted in cheek. Music from Kubrick’s films runs through the feature, and scenes that aren’t carbon copies of Kubrick’s films are done in the same flavor. Those who worked with Stanley approach the film with equal parts humor and nostalgia, and it almost feels like it’s a cinematic eulogy that he would have liked.
To a certain degree however, it’s that nostalgia that holds the film down to some degree, preventing it from achieving a higher success. As it stands, Color Me Kubrick is camp for camp’s sake (considering Conway, I guess that’s not a bad thing), but it revels in being unorthodox and doesn’t care what anyone thinks, which the characters reflect, and lack any sort of charisma or identifiability, assuming that’s a word.
The 16:9 widescreen format looks decent, there’s a lot of film grain throughout, but nothing too distracting, and the film sports a grayish palette that’s reproduced accurately here, just how Stanley would have wanted.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundmix is a pleasant surprise for the film, as the dialogue is pretty clear and focused, and there’s a bit of surround and subwoofer usage in some of the more musical scenes.
The only piece in here is a making-of look at the film, entitled “Being Alan Conway”. Considering the star of this film, the title is kind of funny, but this piece focuses on the production, while also including recollections from those who worked with Kubrick during this Conway business. At about 45 minutes it was longer than I was expecting, and overall the piece is worth the time.
Color Me Kubrick doesn’t introduce much in the way of groundbreaking cinema, it tells a story about a enigmatic figure who portrayed another enigmatic figure. Malkovich’s performance is cute and simple, but the film and the characters just don’t strike any sort of likability and the film seems to come off a lot of times as one big in joke. It’s worth checking out for fans of the director who might not know the extremes people would go to force him out of anonymity.
Special Features List
- Making of Featurette