1980/Director: Woody Allen/Writer: Woody Allen
Cast: Woody Allen, Charlotte Rampling, Jessica Harper, Marie-Christine Barrault, Daniel Stern, Tony Roberts, John Rothman
I have long adored the film work of Woody Allen and also debated on what film I would want to offer up as a review here at the Café. I recently watched his two new films Midnight in Paris and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and enjoyed them both, though preferring the moodier Tall Dark Stanger to the more fanciful Midnight. But I watch and enjoy Woody’s brooding stuff and his fanciful stuff equally. I saw that the movie blog Matte Havoc was featuring Woody Allen as the theme for the a recurring feature and was accepting guest bloggers to a post ona Woody film and I decided it was the impetus I had long needed to do a post on Woody and one of his films. The film that came to mind the immediately was 1980’s Stardust Memories, though I would not consider it my favorite Woody Allen film. It certainly ranks in the top five but rather I felt it might fit into the feel of what I am usually trying to do here at The Uranium Cafe. It is black and white. It has a quirky feel to it though it a masterfully crafted film. It is inspired somewhat by the film 8 ½ by Fredrico Fellini and I like a few Fellini films –though not all by any stretch – and plan on doing reviews eventually of a few Fellini films like Nights of Cabrina, La Strada or La Dolce Vita, all black and white films. And while Stardust Memories is not an unknown film to Woody Allen fans and completists -like myself- it is virtually unknown outside the Woody cognoscenti, and when viewed by the uninitiated it is usually not well received. For the review I rewatched the film for maybe the 6th or 7th time and like any true masterpiece it was as engaging as the 1st time I saw it, and even more so since something is gleaned from each rewatch of a film of this caliber. But I go into this review with humility as I typically do not review such well crafted films and usually do not review works by true film geniuses like Woody Allen. But at the end of the day it is just a movie and this is just my opinion of it. So lets get on with it.
The movie, without giving anything away really, ends on a positive note as far as I am concerned and at the end of the weekend film event Bates seems to come to terms with himself and his relationship with Isobel as well as his film and who he is as a filmmaker, and that maybe giving the audience what they want (a few good laughs, advice given by extraterrestrials) is not the worst thing in the world. He is not evil, simply floundering. The movie fades with Bates staring at the screen of his own film as the audience, made of up of the film's cast, leaves commenting on Bates and the movie they all worked together on, making it a bit of a confusing movie within a movie type ending but I did not over analyze it myself. Stardust Memories is a rare piece of movie magic that basically bombed at the box office but has a high place not only amongst Allen fans, but with Allen himself who counts it, alongside The Purple Rose of Cairo, as one of his favorite films of his long and productive career.