Monday, March 26, 2007
Being John Malkovich being Alan Conway being Stanley Kubrick, in colour
John Malkovich, now 54, is a favored American character actor. Imdb lists “Con Air” (1997) first after his name on the index page. With his bald pate and hairy body and sometimes affected, prissy or mincing manner, he represents the stereotype of masculinity that has folded back into itself. So, back in 1999, Spike Jonze and Gramercy Pictures distributed a delicious little satire of John, “Being John Malkovich” where a puppeteer finds a worm-hole, partly through a doll house apartment floor (hidden in a building with four foot ceiling) and a portal, dumping people on the NJ Turnpike, that enables one to find out what it is like to take over the identity of John Horatio Malkovich. If there was ever a film concept that challenges the legal concept of “right of publicity,” this one was it.
So wasn’t John the logical choice for another satire, “Colour Me Kubrick, A True…ish Story” (distributed ThinkFilm, produced by Europa Corp – a company named after Jupiter’s oceanic moon, directed by Brian W. Cook) where he plays the non-look-alike imposter Alan Conway mimicking Stanley Kubrick, in order to pick up attractive young men in London’s gay bars. Now this imposition occurred in 1998 or so while Stanley Kubrick was filming the super-secret and garish Eyes Wide Shut, with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, where Dr. William Harford, played by Tom, goes on an odyssey in New York (filmed in London) after his masculinity is challenged. (Remember Harford’s last word in that film, after he gets himself back?) Now this Colour film names and refers to a number of other Kubrick films in the music score, most of all 2001: A Space Odyssey, when it plays the opening solar sunrise of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra and follows with Johann Strauss Jr.’s The Blue Danube Waltz, and really lilts thinks up with the three-four time. There are other films mentioned Other controversial films, like A Clockwork Orange and Lolita, get mentioned. But Conway stumbles in front of a trick when he mentions Judgment at Nuremberg, which was really directed by Stanley Kramer. (So was High Noon.)
I watched Hallmark’s 2005 television miniseries rendition of Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island the other day. Netflix had mistakenly inserted this version in an envelope calling for the 1960 Columbia film of the same novel. But here Patrick Stewart played Captain Nemo, determined to save the world from war by inventing nuclear weapons in the 1860s. When he was giving his speech, I thought: who else could have played Nemo: John Malkovich, of course. I see on imdb that Malkovich plays Unferth in Robert Zemeckis ‘s English lit mythology classic Beowulf (adapted by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary), due out later this year from Warner Bros.
If I ever did whip-cream up the money for my own “Do Ask Do Tell”, who would be the obvious lead to play the adult me. Sad to say or good to say, it has to be John Malkovich. But Patrick Stewart, who narrates The Planets--Epoch 2000 (to the symphonic suite by English composer Gustav Holst) and plays Captain Picard in the Star Trek movies, could be a good choice. Or, sorry, maybe he should be Leonard Nimoy -- Spock, of ComputerMan, from the Star Trek saga.
Picture: (no relation): Sunken Garden at The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA