Screenwiter Anthony Frewin and director Brian Cook, real-life associates of reclusive, American-born filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, find a sad fable about identity, image and the allure of fame in the bizarre story of con man Alan Conway, who successfully passed himself off as the reclusive filmmaker in 1990s London.
Grifter David Hampton, who took wealthy New Yorkers for free food and lodging by pretending to be Sidney Poitier's son, was small beer next to Conway (John Malkovich), an alcoholic sexual predator who convinced handsome young designers, musicians and actors that he was the world-famous Kubrick, come to transform their lives. To be sure, Conway looked nothing like Kubrick, knew little of his career (one cinema-savvy, would-be mark lets "Kubrick" prattle on for several painful minutes about his JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG before remarking acidly, "Oh, dear… you've got your Stanleys in a twist, haven't you?") and wasn't American, preposterous accents notwithstanding. But they're all dazzled by the thought that fate has maneuvered them into the presence of genius, and that genius is touchingly flawed: The ruse works as well on successful lounge singer "Lee Pratt" (Jim Davidson) to whom "Kubrick" promises Las Vegas showbiz contacts as it does on the taxi driver who lets his famous fare go inside to get some cash everyone knows rich people never carry money and then waits fruitlessly for his return. All emerge sadder, wiser and cruelly stripped of their dreams.
The moral appears to be that anything apparently too good to be true is, and the proximity of celebrity robs people of their common sense. Neither are what you'd call an earth-shaking insight, but Frewin and Cook have a light, infra dig touch: They send a pair of droog-like club impresarios to unsuccessfully strong-arm the steely upper-crust old gent who owns the Belgravia mansion "Mr. Kubrick" claimed was his; they showcase a snippy remark that HAL 9000 was obviously a big jealous queen; and they cast BARRY LYNDON star Marisa Berenson as New York Times writer Alex Witchell, whose drama-critic husband, Frank Rich (William Hootkins), helped bring the imposer down. Malkovich pulls out all the gaudy stops, but he can't top Conway's prevarications, especially "Kubrick"'s upcoming projects: "All Night Prescriptions" (a spur-of-the-moment invention inspired by a drugstore sign); a remake of "Otto Preminger's" SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949); a gender-switched reworking of DARLING (1965); and, best of all, "3001: A Space Odyssey" with John Malkovich and Miss Elizabeth Taylor. The mind boggles at both the absurdity and the fact that none of these projects has been announced in Variety.
Sign up and add shows to get the latest updates about your favorite shows - Start Now
- 1. The Masked Singer: The Best and Worst Guesses About Who's Behind the Final Five Costumes
- 2. This Is Us' Beth Episode Gave Us the First True, Good Cry of the Season
- 3. NCIS' Sean Murray Weighs in on McGee's Surprising Past in '90s Flashback Episode
- 4. Which Umbrella Academy Character Are You?
- 5. Shadowhunters' Matthew Daddario Says Malec Is Heading for Rough Waters
- 6. Miracle Workers' Geraldine Viswanathan Isn't Here For Hollywood Tokenism
- 7. The Bachelor: Colton Is a Messy Bro Who Lives for Drama