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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 16.67%
Average: 5.56%
Pretty Bad: 5.56%
Total Crap: 5.56%

1 review, 12 user ratings

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Stardust Memories
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Woody gets nasty."
5 stars

I like Woody Allen when he's nasty.

Many fans and critics don't, and when he squeezes out a sour pellet like Stardust Memories (or the later Deconstructing Harry), some critics stop being critics and start being armchair psychologists. They can't separate Woody from the character he's playing; it's convenient for them to assume Woody means everything that he, in character, says and does.

This comedy -- yes, folks, it is a comedy -- was viewed at the time as a "horrible betrayal" (Pauline Kael) of Allen's fan base as well as a whiny case of the celebrity blues. It is a fairly brutal and stylized account of the miseries of a famous comedian/director, who is trying to do something different, but his grabby fans and uncomprehending studio bosses won't let him.

Actually, I doubt how much of this movie -- starring Allen as Sandy Bates, a director invited to a film-geek retreat for a retrospective of his work -- is strictly autobiographical. Allen, at the time, had carte blanche at United Artists. They gave him the money to make Interiors; they did everything in their power to woo him away from moving to Orion (a move that turned out to be abandoning one soon-to-sink ship for another). I think this movie is Allen's worst-case-scenario version of a director like him who faces challenges that Allen didn't.

Seen in that light, the movie can be enjoyed for its funhouse-mirror take on dweeby fans (I understand that Allen exaggerates a little here, but not by much) and its depiction of the solipsistic Sandy Bates, who simply cannot be intended as a likable character like Alvy Singer, a schlumpy Everyman who made good. Viewed in context with the rest of Allen's work, Sandy and his story make up just one portrait among many; viewed back in 1980, the film could be (and was) taken as Woody's "fuck you" to anyone who ever watched, critiqued, or loved any of his movies.

Perhaps Allen got singed by the heat of the critical reaction -- it would be seven years before this formerly quite personal filmmaker made another remotely autobiographical movie.

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originally posted: 03/13/07 02:40:44
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User Comments

3/30/08 Ned The film by Woody Allen I like most - a masterpiece. 5 stars
1/30/03 Justin Good points about ultimate questions of the human condition 4 stars
1/20/03 Andrew Callaway One of Woody's best. Lot's of great bits, "I like your earlier movies, when they were funny 5 stars
8/28/02 Caroline This movie was surely misunderstood in america, is the most beautiful Woody´s movie. 5 stars
8/02/02 Phil M. Aficionado Tedious. A few funny segments is not enough to overcome a meandering, self-centered film 2 stars
6/17/02 dave why would I trust a guy who can't tell the difference between "there" and "their?" 4 stars
5/11/02 Jack Burgess A turning point 1 stars
4/23/02 uberlibrarian Though similar in visual style to 8 1/2, not at all like Fellini. Often very funny. 4 stars
1/02/02 Andrew Carden All That I Can Say Is: WOW! 5 stars
6/14/01 Glen Manning An insightful, imaginative and introspective work that is a must-see. 5 stars
2/11/01 jay harris Great!! 5 stars
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  26-Sep-1980 (PG)
  DVD: 05-Jul-2000



Directed by
  Woody Allen

Written by
  Woody Allen

  Woody Allen
  Charlotte Rampling
  Jessica Harper
  Tony Roberts
  Daniel Stern
  Amy Wright

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