Colour Me Kubrick traces its origins back to a famous incident in the early 90s, when New York Times critic Frank Rich was thrilled to bump into the reclusive director Stanley Kubrick at a London nightspot, and only later discovered that his meeting had actually been with a fey flim-flam artist called Alan Conway who was using Kubrick's name as a passport into a life significantly more interesting than his own. As a British newspaper succinctly put it: "Celebrity abhors a vacuum. If Kubrick did not want to exist in public, then somebody had to invent him." Conway is the man who did the inventing, but asColour Me Kubrick makes sure to point out, he did it rather sloppily and half-heartedly, and could be tripped up by even the most casual Kubrick fans. One of those fans sizes up Conway, played by John Malkovich, within approximately one minute of meeting him and helpfully tells him: "If you're going to come in here pretending to be Stanley Kubrick, do us the favor of doing some research first."

Lacking the sophistication to pass himself off as Kubrick in film circles, Conway traveled a much weirder road, dropping the Kubrick name to small-time musicians, would-be fashionistas and other on-the-margins types who recognized the name, but understandably never imagined that someone would pretend to be Kubrick to get in close with them. The film hits its strongest notes when it shows us the power that celebrity has to swerve someone's behavior; no one ever seems to like Conway much -- either as Kubrick or as himself -- but when he's able to convince them that he's actually the famous director, they take care to keep that opinion to themselves. Their 'celebrity sighting' is typically so brief that they don't have time to get a fix on how truly bizarre Conway is -- his Kubrick accent and impersonation changes radically in every scene. By the time they've treated "Stanley" to a night on the town, or submitted to a night of unwanted sex, or sent him over a bottle of comped booze, he is already moving on to a new mark.