Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Art of Reinvention

I felt like John Malkovich was screaming at me as I was browsing over dvds and so I decided to pull out the one that had his name from the tightly-packed box holding a mix of big time Hollywood blockbusters, the classics, and never- heard foreign films.

The film turned out to be Colour me Kubrick or Appelez-moi Kubrick! (I got the French version). I cant say im really familiar with the work of Stanley Kubrick but I have seen some of his films. I saw Full Metal Jacket during my Betamax years, and much later A Clockwork Orange on VHS from the library of Tumbang Preso, an old hang out of activists and artists along Visayas Avenue.

The last Kubrick Film I saw was oddly enough the one that catapulted him to fame- Lolita. I also remember watching Eyes Wide Shut, oddly enough again in Paris in 1999. I think Kubrick died soon after the showing of that film and that some other director , I don’t know maybe Steven Spielberg actually put the finishing touches to the film, I cant remember anymore.

I like his films but I don’t know what he looks like. This could be the subtext of Colour me Kubrick, a true…ish story. The film chronicles the life of Alan Conway, brilliantly played by Malkovich, a con-artist who posed as Stanley Kubrick. Conway gets whatever he wants out of life- sex, vodka money, free food, free taxi rides, accommodation in fancy hotels, even prescription medicines by pretending to be this famous legendary American film director that everybody knows yet nobody really knows. Conway gets away with his con-game because people know about Kubrick but they don’t really know shit who he really is, what he looks like, where he’s from.

So in the first few scenes, you find yourself being amused at how Conway pulled this performance of a lifetime off. How he managed to seduce his willing victims. These people were willing victims because they wanted to believe that they were all talking, sharing drinks, sharing the bed with Kubrick. They all wanted a piece of his fame. They were all consenting adults. So in effect, it was not at all a solitary song and dance number but rather a performance of two, or three people all wanting to be someone they are not; all masters or mistresses of re-invention.

The beginning of the end for Conway comes when a former lover of his (or him as Kubrick) spills the beans and a story appears on the newspapers. The story then turns from a comedy to a tragedy at this stage. And the bright colored tapestry of the film, the glare of the cherry red furniture across bright green walls are replaced by shades of gray. Conway begs his former lover not to leave him saying he only did it (pretend to be Kubrick) because he wanted to escape from being himself. But Conway seemed better at playing Kubrick than playing himself, so his performance flops and his lover leaves him crying. Cut to the next scene where, Conway is walking along the beach, the sea breeze almost shedding his clothes off , bottle in hand, he stumbles and falls to the ground as the main song by Bryan Adams “I am not the man you think I am” plays in the background.

For his final performance, Conway managed to elude conviction when he convinces a do-good psychiatrist that he was in fact a victim himself. That his psychiatric condition actually cost him much of his life’s savings, paying for expensive dinners, staying in fancy hotels, etc. His argument was that it is not really easy being Stanley Kubrick.

Conway died in 1998 and then the real Stanley Kubrick soon followed.