Talk about your reputation preceding you. In Alan Conway's case, however, it wasn't his reputation, but that of a certain notoriously elusive filmmaker named Stanley Kubrick. Brian Cook's Colour Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story follows the true-life exploits of a down-and-out, gay boozehound who managed, by passing himself off as Kubrick, to gain adoration and material support from a cross-section of London's gay artists and culture vultures in the 1990s. Of course, suspicion eventually caught up with Conway and his cover was blown by a Vanity Fair article and a police investigation that followed his trail of hoodwink and swindle.
Playing Conway-as-Kubrick is John Malkovich. He's the main attraction here, and for all of Colour Me Kubrick's considerable flaws, you can't take your eyes off Malkovich's flamboyant take on Conway. Depending on whom Conway's trying to hustle -- whether it's Jasper (Richard E. Grant), a hard-luck restaurateur; Rupert (Luke Mably), a studly would-be fashion designer; or Lee Pratt (Jim Davidson), a cut-rate Tom Jones-wannabe -- we see him adapting wildly different variations on the "Kubrick" persona. He's the sly English fop for the gay scenesters, or a variation on the brash, business-minded American (often with a shrill Brooklyn accent) for the investors and entertainers. Always, though, he dresses with the sensibility of a natty, low-rent hipster -- as if Kubrick must dress dowdily, yet with an impeccable sense of thrift-store chic. Conway's coup de grace involves conning the aforementioned Pratt, the English crooner, into believing he -- Kubrick -- is going to help him score a show in Vegas. After Pratt calls his bluff, the balance of Conway's vodka-loving life is spent in a rehab facility for the fancy rich. What we marvel at, beyond the gullibility of his victims, is how Conway is always playing a role, and getting away with it, right up to the very end.
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