Being John Malkovich reaches new heights of mincing, self-indulgent madness in Color Me Kubrick. That's no mean feat, but it comes with something of a mean streak here. Malkovich plays Alan Conway, a self-loathing alcoholic weirdo who hustles his way through London's gay bars, rock clubs, and B-list celebrity scenes pretending to be the famously reclusive filmmaker. Based on a true story, this sneering would-be comedy was written by Anthony Frewin, Kubrick's former personal assistant, and directed by Brian Cook, one of his assistant directors and co-producers. They may have known the man, but they've got a flimsy grasp on his doppelgänger. Conway's fraudulent picaresque would seem the ideal vehicle for satirizing celebrity obsession, punking the Kubrick mystique, and rooting into the theatrics of identity, but the CMK crew settles for a shapeless, low-grade comedy of flamboyance, giggling at Conway's histrionics and fishnet gloving. Malkovich musters a brand-new accent (always ridiculous) and body language (always virtuoso) for each new mark: an impressive, if unexamined, act of invention. I find it hard to believe that Conway bamboozled half of London by simply announcing his name, and regrettable that the filmmakers base their premise on such improbable gullibility. The real Conway was assuredly more sly than his biopic incarnation; he ought to have been played by Sacha Baron Cohen.
Malkovich in clown mode.
Runs at Varsity, Fri., March 23–Thurs., March 29. Not rated. 89 minutes.