Owen Gleiberman
March 21, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Color Me Kubrick

Current Status
In Season
86 minutes
Richard E. Grant, John Malkovich
Brian W. Cook
Magnolia Pictures
Anthony Frewin
Drama, Comedy

We gave it a B

In the early ’90s, a neurotic gay alcoholic English travel agent named Alan Conway swanned his way through London by passing himself off as Stanley Kubrick. He cadged free drinks and hotel rooms, and some free sex, too, but mostly he just sat around parties and bars holding court as the world’s most legendary reclusive movie director. Color Me Kubrick takes this flyspeck of a huckster and builds a teensy yet irresistibly droll film around him. John Malkovich, in a luscious goof of a performance, has a high old time playing Conway as a foppish inebriated loser, an inept con man whose ”impersonation” consists of carrying on like some broken-down old Hollywood queen. He can barely plan his charade past the next cocktail, yet he is always very grand, and that, it turns out, is enough to sway people.

Everyone is so flattered to be in ”Kubrick’s” presence that the weirder he acts, the more his behavior is taken as the eccentricity of genius. Color Me Kubrick, written by Kubrick’s former personal assistant Anthony Frewin and directed by his former assistant director Brian Cook, doesn’t have much shape; it’s like a series of sketches mashed into a flaked-out comedy of fame, with Kubrick’s soundtracks used as troweled-on irony. Yet as Conway works his idiot magic on punk rockers, third-rate vaudevillians, even The New York Times‘ Frank Rich (who helped to unmask the con by writing a story about his experience), the film reveals, rather delectably, how potent the power of suggestion can be in a world gone madly groupie. B

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