Wednesday, June 13, 2007


A crockwork orange

By Edward Copeland
Going as far back as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, people seem to have a limitless desire to believe and that desire makes them an easy mark for a con man such as Alan Conway, who tried to pass himself off as Stanley Kubrick. He wasn't even that particularly thorough a schemer, often spouting facts that should be easily refuted (and often are). Still, even with Conway's sloppiness, his lies were better constructed than Colour Me Kubrick, the movie that tells his tale.

John Malkovich, who seems to be making a career out of self-reflexive cinema (he refers to himself in the third person in one scene), stars as Conway, an alcoholic Englishman in London who latches on to the reclusive director's name, though he seems to employ a different accent for each new mark he meets.

His motive, while somewhat hazy, seems to be entirely to sponge off others and to find sexual companionship along the way. The many musicians and would-be actors, eager to get in the good graces of the "director of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dr. Strangelove," are more than willing to pick up many a tab for Conway.

The problems start piling up when Conway makes promises he can't keep, including acting as the guarantor for a loan and getting a British TV entertainer (Jim Davidson) to believe he's about to become a Las Vegas star.

Directed by Brian Cook, who himself was an assistant director on several real Kubrick films, the exceedingly short (though mercifully so) film doesn't seem to have much on its mind. It plays as a series of blackout sketches with frequent homages to famous scenes from Kubrick movies, but it never really gives us a deeper glimpse of Conway or his victims.

One of the people who discovered his ruse was none other than great NY Times columnist and then-drama critic Frank Rich. I wonder how he feels about being portrayed as a much huskier man with a full beard and mustache, unlike any picture of Rich I've ever seen.

I'm sure Malkovich had fun with his role. Unfortunately, very little of that joy transfers to the viewer.

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This was a hugely disappointing film, especially when you consider many of the people involved in making it actually worked with Kubrick.

And as for the length of the film, I found it to be one of the most poorly paced, slowest moving films in quite a while. I felt like I was sitting through BARRY LYNDON twice.

The original story that ran in the New York Times was an interesting one. This film doesn't do it justice.
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