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USA 1980
Directed by
Woody Allen
89 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Stardust Memories

Woody Allen's reworks Fellini’s classic and in terms of style does so brilliantly largely thanks to Gordon Willis's photography however the device of giving himself the licence to make a film more or less about himself produces a rather aetiolated result with no really significant character other that Allen's and the same jokes (“I love your films, especially the early ones) playing over and over. 

Allen plays Sandy Bates, a film director mcuh feted for his existential, absurdist comedies who is attending a weekend festival of his films. While there he tries to convince Isobel (Marie-Christine Barrault) to come live with him, reflects on his past relationship with Dorrie (Charlotte Rampling) and put some moves Daisy (Jessica Harper).
Allen was criticized heavily at the time for making fun of his fans, depicting them as gullible nitwits, pretentious fools and sycophants but this is actually one of the better aspects of the film. It may not be kind but it’s a credible portrait of a celebrity’s point of view.

Allen was at this time at the peak of his career with Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979) recently under his belt and his portrayal of a weary, disaffected director, as is the case with most of Allen’s films, no doubt is grounded in this own experience (there is also an unintentionally prescient joke about Sandy’s making eyes at Dorrie’s 13 year old niece that is twinned with a blown up newspaper story on incest).  Allen art-mirroring-life slight-of-hand is an intriguing aspect of his films but here the result is a film which, a few scenes aside also feels rather tired in its calculating self-quoting humour. Fortunately Allen would find a way out of this self-flagellating cul-de-sac in his subsequent and what would become characteristic period pieces like Zelig (1983) and The Purple Rose Of Cairo (1984).

Stardust Memories is one either for die-hard fans or audiences who know nothing of Allen’s much better films, especially the earlier funny ones.

FYI: Sharon Stone makes one of her first film appearances as the woman who blows Sandy a kiss.




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